Postal service unveils anthrax testing

Centers across the nation plan to begin biohazard screening.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:56 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Postal workers, known for delivering mail through snow, rain, heat and gloom of night, can add another element to the list of things that won’t stop them: biohazards.

The Columbia mail processing and distribution center will begin using its new Postal Service Biohazard Detection System today.

The system was created as the result of a 2001 anthrax scare. It is designed to detect anthrax by collecting air samples above mail that moves through high-speed equipment.

“The $700 million program is placing the system in 283 processing centers across the U.S.,” said Art Doscher, U.S. Postal Service manager of emergency preparedness. “The program was paid for by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Postal Service.”

The processing center in Columbia is one of five centers in Missouri to receive the system. The others are in Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield and Cape Girardeau.

The Kansas City Processing and Distribution Center had the Biohazard Detection System installed in January.

“The system does not cause any delays in the mail process,” said James Gonzalez, plant manager.

Overall, the Kansas City center has been pleased with the system.

“The system is a great improvement and gives added protection for the United States Postal Service employees and the American population,” Gonzalez said.

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