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Thomas Lends Support to Postal Workers

Council Member Harry Thomas Jr. has joined in the push to get a government briefing for postal workers at the Brentwood facility contaminated by anthrax in 2001.

Thomas (D-Ward 5), who represents the community where the facility is located, said the government hasn't done enough to brief the workers and the surrounding community and said he plans to write the Post Master General.

"People need to briefed by the government to know exactly what is going on," he said. "There are still safety issues and concerns."

Federal law enforcement officials brought victims and families affected by the attack that killed five people to the FBI headquarters for a briefing recently, after revelations that authorities believe Army scientist Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax. Ivins killed himself before being indicted.

But president of the union representing postal workers at the facility said they are still waiting for the government to bring them up to date with a briefing of their own.

Dena Briscoe, president of the National Capital/Southern Maryland Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union, is calling on Chief Postal Inspector Alexander Lazaroff to make good on his promise to update the workers.

"Having someone from the government talking about the latest development helps in some of the healing, pain and closure surrounding this case," Briscoe said.

Workers Joseph P. Curseen Jr. and Thomas L. Morris, Jr. lost their lives to anthrax at the facility, which has since been named in their honor.

"Whether I accept what the government said or not, to be allowed to asked questions was very therapeutic," said Briscoe, who attended the Justice Department briefing as editor of a newsletter that reaches the 2,110 postal workers in her union.

"We have a postal advisory board that is still waiting to be informed" too, Thomas said.

Briscoe said the only information about the Ivans case that the workers have received at the facility are a few lines on a video monitor in the breakroom.

"If they are not willing to organize this meeting, I am willing to organize it myself," she said.

Doug Bem, spokesman for the Postal Inspection Service, said yesterday "no time table has been set for these briefings," but noted that on Aug. 6 Master General John Potter sent an email to all postal employees giving them an update on the anthrax investigation.

Bem, who was at the Brentwood facility when the anthrax was discovered, said keeping the workers informed is a top priority for Chief Postal Inspector Alexander Lazaroff.

" We are not backing away from the importance of briefing the workers and all interested parties," he said.

Hamil R. Harris

By Marcia Davis  |  August 16, 2008; 10:54 AM ET
Categories:  City Life , D.C. Council  
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