USPS May Build Irradiation Facility in DC

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The U.S. Postal Service wants to build a postal-owned mail-irradiation facility in the Washington, DC, area that would irradiate and sanitize mail delivered to government offices in the 202 to 205 ZIP codes, the USPS said yesterday.

The preferred site is on USPS property at the Curseen-Morris Processing and Distribution Center. The agency plans to publish a Notice of Intent next week to begin an environmental assessment to determine the feasibility of the facility.

Immediately after the anthrax attacks in October 2001, mail service to government offices within Washington was halted until measures could be taken to ensure the safety of the mail. The USPS contracted to have government mail irradiated at contractor facilities in Ohio and New Jersey. The irradiation of government mail continues today at contractor facilities in Bridgeport, NJ.

Construction of a local facility would minimize logistics and security requirements now needed in transporting government mail to the Bridgeport facility and let the USPS better maintain custody and control of the mail, the agency said.

The postal service said that it would be the nation's first irradiation facility specifically for mail that uses electron beam and X-ray technology, which the USPS said does not create any radioactive substances or materials.

The USPS also said that it would begin nationwide deployment early next year of a biohazard system designed to detect anthrax. The system was tested this summer.

Also, the agency plans to install new ventilation and filtration systems in all processing distribution centers early next year.

Meanwhile, the agency began a limited test Oct. 11 to evaluate the decontamination system at the Trenton Processing and Distribution Center in Hamilton Township, NJ. It has been two years since the building was closed after anthrax was found at the facility. A full-scale cleanup is expected to begin by the end of the month.


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