New evidence of anthrax found in federal buildings

Sunday, November 11, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Trace amounts of anthrax were discovered in new locations in two congressional office buildings where earlier tests had detected the presence of the deadly bacteria, authorities said Saturday.

The health threat was deemed minimal, said a spokesman for the Capitol Police.

Spores were found in the office of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., on the sixth floor of the Longworth House office building, Lt. Dan Nichols said. The office already was closed because it was next to an office where anthrax had been discovered.

Anthrax was found in several additional spots in the Hart Senate office building, where a letter containing anthrax was opened Oct. 15 in the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. Nichols would not immediately provide the new locations.

The Daschle letter led to the shutdown of all six major House and Senate office buildings, as well as the House side of the Capitol, for testing that revealed evidence of the bacteria in several other locations in the complex.

Other spots in the Hart building where isolated spores were found -- a freight elevator and a staircase -- were cleaned last week with an anti-bacterial foam.

Senate leaders had hoped to decontaminate the building with chlorine dioxide gas and reopen it on Nov. 13. But experts questioned the effectiveness of that plan and expressed concerns about whether the gas would work uniformly in the nine-story building.

It is now uncertain when all 50 senators who work there -- half the Senate -- can reoccupy their offices.

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