D.C. Mail to Be Cleaned in Ohio
Oct. 27, 2001
LIMA, Ohio (AP) _ Truckloads of mail from a Washington postal facility that handled an anthrax-laced letter are arriving in Lima for sterilization by a private company.
Some 45 truckloads of mail _ about 68 tons _ are expected in all, said James Snider of FedEx Custom Critical, which was hired by the Postal Service to handle the shipment.
The mail comes from the Brentwood facility, the primary sorting center for the nation's capital. Two postal workers from the now-closed facility are dead from anthrax and two others are hospitalized with the disease, believed to have been contracted from mail addressed to Congress.
The mail will be sanitized at Titan Scan Technologies and returned to Washington. It was not clear how long it would take.
Titan chairman and chief executive Gene Ray explained the process: Letters will be put in packages, put on a conveyor belt and irradiated for about five minutes. The radiation kills bacteria _ including anthrax. However, the process also ruins credit cards and film.
Titan has been using its irradiation process on medical products for about eight years and on food _ to kill bacteria such as E. coli _ for 18 months, Ray said.
``It's a well-understood, well-proven technology,'' he said. ``This is the first time (it has been used) for mail, of course.''
In Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday, Sen. Tom Harkin watched as workers at Titan subsidiary SureBeam sent a box of mail through a machine normally used to kill germs on hamburger.
``It is a form of irradiation from a scientific view,'' said Larry Oberkfell, president and chief executive of San Diego-based SureBeam. ``But we use electricity, not nuclear energy.''
Harkin, D-Iowa, recommended that the Postal Service consider the technology at mail sorting centers.