Postal workers drill for anthrax scare

first_imgVALENCIA – More than 300 postal workers evacuated their posts Thursday in a full-scale drill to train in case anthrax is detected in the massive Valencia facility. A hazardous materials squad from the Los Angeles County Fire Department stood by prepared to decontaminate any “victims” as a police helicopter landed to spirit the “sample” to a Los Angeles lab. In all, six agencies took part in the three-hour drill organized as a dress rehearsal should the alarm sound on the biohazard detection system at the Santa Clarita Postal Distribution Center. Detection systems were installed at 282 U.S. Postal Service processing centers nationwide after the spate of anthrax scares that followed the terrorist attacks of 2001. The deadly chemical was mailed to victims in a series of cases never solved. “This whole system, from the BDS to the drill, is designed so that will never happen again,” postal service spokesman Richard Maher said. “We’re saying, `Don’t use the mail for that kind of terrorism. It will be stopped.’ ” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Anthrax has not been found at the facilities since the detectors were installed, Maher said. The Santa Clarita center distributes local mail as well as truckloads from the San Fernando Valley and as far as Pasadena. Thursday’s drill began with the staged discovery of an anthrax-laced item in the mail. The 332 employees working that shift were expected to file into the staff cafeteria in organized fashion. “This would be very methodical,” said Renee Focht, a postal inspector. “The employees know they can’t run. They must be accounted for. They have to be decontaminated. They want the medication.” Also participating in the drill were the county Department of Health Services, the California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles Police Department, which provided the helicopter. [email protected] (661) 257-5251last_img