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Anthrax at State Department

Aired October 29, 2001 - 11:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to our State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel who has new developments on the anthrax front there.

Andrea, what do you have?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, I should also tell our viewers the reason I'm on the phone is due to stepped-up security here at the State Department. But according to several State Department officials, they sell CNN that trace amounts of anthrax have been found here at the main State Department building, the same building that you just saw President Bush address that auditorium.

They have been found in two of the mail rooms, according one senior State Department official. It is very, very, minor. And the good news is that it is not in the filtering system. This was found over the weekend in those two areas. As we reported to you last week, much of the State Department mail comes from a facility in Springfield, Virginia, which receives much of its mail from the Brentwood facility, at which two postal workers died recently from inhalation not anthrax.

Now, in addition to the trace amounts found in two of the postal offices here in the State Department, it was also found, trace amounts of anthrax in the Rewards for Justice letters. These is letters that are written with tips, for instance, on potential terrorist attacks or on past terrorist attacks. This is a facility that is not here in the main State Department building, but a few blocks away.

Again, according a senior State Department official, there was a post office box where these letters go to at Brentwood. Somebody went to pick them up and brought a handful of letters that had trace amounts of anthrax to that Rewards for Justice building. Those letters were taken to the FBI, they were checked and analyzed. They were only in that building for about a day.

Again, trace amounts of anthrax were found in those letters. No indication, Bill, it has spread in that Rewards for Justice building, or for that matter, here in the State Department.

HEMMER: Andrea, with the traces in the main State Department building, any plans or any talk about getting people out, evacuating, testing, things like that? KOPPEL: No, for the evacuation. Again, the good news, as it's been characterized to me, is that this trace amount of anthrax is not in the filtering system, so it is not being spread through the air conditioning and heating facilities here at the State Department. They are however, telling all postal employees and those employees who are near to those two post office rooms, I'm not being told where those rooms are, but they are scattered throughout the bulling.

So those near those rooms should be tested for any signs of anthrax and should go on Cipro, on that antibiotic.

HEMMER: All right. Andrea Koppel there from the State Department by telephone. Again, the word from Andrea, traces have been found but only minor at this time. Certainly, that is good news. But even minor news at this point certainly raises a number of eyebrows throughout the country.

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