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Anthrax Traces Found in Supreme Court, State Dept. Buildings

The Supreme Court had already planned to hold today’s arguments at another federal courthouse after spores were found in an off-site mail facility on Friday. It was the first time in 66 years the high court has held proceedings away from the building since it opened.

Officials announced today a small amount of anthrax bacteria has also been found in a basement mailroom and that the court’s headquarters would remained closed at least through tomorrow.

All 400 staff from the building have been offered testing and preventative antibiotics.

Meanwhile, State Dept. spokesman Richard Boucher said low levels of anthrax spores were found in the mailroom of the agency’s headquarters.

Boucher said the department’s mail distribution has been shut down and all mail workers are being given antibiotics as a precaution.

Elsewhere in the city, a mail room at a building used by the Department of Health and Human Services also showed traces of anthrax.

Trace amounts were also found in the Ford House office building, this time in a Capitol Police office.

Late this afternoon, members of Congress met with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss how to decontaminate buildings, in particular the Hart Senate Office Building where a letter addressed to Senator Tom Daschle that contained anthrax was opened. The building has been closed for two weeks after anthrax spores were found in a variety of locations around the building.

Officials said that the building may be fumigated with a chlorine-based gas and may remain closed until mid-November.

“The EPA has assured us this is the quickest, most protective and least disruptive approach we can take,” Senate Majority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters.

Chlorine dioxide has not been used to kill anthrax outside of the laboratory.

Officials say the process may begin in a few days after a peer review session.

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