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<p>WASHINGTON – Washington Postal Employees Federal Credit Union, the $18 million institution that found itself evicted when someone sent anthrax-laced letters through the warehouse-like Brentwood U.S. Postal in Washington D.C., still doesn’t know when it will be able to return to its offices but remains committed to the building, according to the CU’s CEO Patricia Yates. “We have a stake in Brentwood,” said Yates. “We have spent a significant amount of money improving our space in the facility and making it more than it was when we took it over, which was basically a warehouse.” Yates said the credit union and its staff remain committed to the long haul as well, even as she acknowledged that the latest news from the postal service about the Brentwood building makes it appear that the long haul could be very long indeed. “They haven’t done anything to treat us any differently than they have treated the Brentwood employees,” Yates said, even though the credit union arguably has a greater stake in the building’s future than do folks for whom the center was primarily a worksite. The postal service has announced that it too is committed to the Brentwood facility but, for the first time, outlined for the public how large and time consuming a job the decontamination of Brentwood is liable to be. Just as they did with the Hart Senate Office Building, safety officials will fill Brentwood with chlorine dioxide gas to make sure that they kill all the long-lasting anthrax spores in the building’s space and equipment. The officials admitted that the prospect of cleansing Brentwood is a good deal more daunting since the Hart building, just over 100,000 cubic feet, took months to decontaminate while the Brentwood facility has 17.5 million cubic feet. Officials further pointed out that much of Brentwood is filled with complex machinery that has nooks and crannies where it will be difficult to get to introduce the killing gas. In order to make sure they “get it all,” the postal officials announced that they will place over 3,000 “bacterial strips” throughout the warehouse sized facility. These strips will be impregnated with bacteria that will die when reached by the chlorine dioxide gas. Until all the bacteria die, the officials said, they will continue pumping gas into the building. What frustrates Yates is that the very size and novelty of the project makes it very difficult to predict how long it will take. Officials speak in time frames in terms of seasons. Press reports have quoted one official as saying the work will begin “this spring” after the officials have totally sealed the building and established air monitoring equipment outside to make sure no gas escapes. Once begun officials could not give a complete timetable for how long the job will take. (See page 12 for related Guest Editorial.)</p>

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