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Anthrax cleanup of Hart Building not entirely effective

By Kate Snow

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An elaborately staged cleanup of anthrax at the Hart Senate Office building just over a week ago did not fully succeed, lawmakers and Capitol Police said Tuesday.

"The fumigation process was mostly successful," said Senate Majority Leader Daschle, D-South Dakota, who noted that "some of the spots ... are still problematic."

The fumigation process used chlorine dioxide gas, which had never been used in such a large-scale effort before, officials said.

Preliminary results indicated the cleanup was not completely effective, Capitol Police Lt. Dan Nichols confirmed. He said further efforts would be made to remove anthrax contamination, probably using a liquid form of chlorine dioxide. Nichols said he did not know when that process would begin.

Chlorine dioxide liquid has already been used successfully to clean up some isolated spots of contamination in other sections of the building.

The Hart building has been closed since October 17, when aides in Daschle's office opened a letter filled with anthrax spores.

On November 30, Daschle's office suite was sealed off; the following morning, chlorine dioxide gas was pumped inside for more than 12 hours.

To ensure the anthrax was gone after the gas was removed, so-called "spore strips," containing bacterium, were placed in the offices. If the bacteria, related to anthrax, died, that would indicate the anthrax bacteria were gone, too.

EPA officials said they had hoped to use the gas throughout the entire Hart building, but analysts suggested that plan was too risky. Nichols said officials were still waiting for final results of environmental testing done after the massive cleanup. Officials have not set a timetable for reopening the Hart building.


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