Employees from the Brentwood mail facility in Washington filed suit against postal officials this week, saying they knowingly subjected workers to potential health risks during the anthrax crisis two years ago.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, alleges that postal officials “falsely represented that the mail was safe” and kept Washington's central mail processing plant open for at least four days after they knew it was contaminated with anthrax spores.
Two letters containing anthrax spores passed through the facility on their way to Capitol Hill.
Two Brentwood postal workers — Joseph P. Curseen, 47, and Thomas J. Morris Jr., 55 — died of inhalation anthrax. The plant, which has been renamed in honor of Curseen and Morris, remains closed.
Thomas J. Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a public interest group that filed the suit on behalf of about 2,200 current and former postal workers, said that many Brentwood employees suffer adverse health effects from anthrax exposure. It might have contributed to other deaths in the past two years, he said.
The suit seeks $100 million in damages, according to the Washington Post.
USPS spokesman Gerry McKiernan said officials do not comment on pending lawsuits.
The Washington Post cited a report from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggested the rates and causes of death among Brentwood employees and other postal workers potentially exposed to anthrax in the 12 months after the anthrax attacks did not differ from rates and causes of deaths during the past five years.
Meanwhile, the USPS said yesterday that last week's test of the decontamination system at its Trenton Processing and Distribution Center in New Jersey was a success.
The agency began a limited test Oct. 11 to evaluate the decontamination system at the 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.