A Lancaster environmental services company has sent 20 of its workers to Washington, D.C., to take samples from more than 25 federal buildings, including the Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol, to test for anthrax contamination.
The workers, all of whom are trained to work in protective suits and respirators, came from Ecology & Environment branch offices throughout the country as federal officials scrambled to determine whether other federal buildings had been contaminated by anthrax. None of the workers sent to Washington, D.C., over the weekend came from E&E's Lancaster facilities.
"We got a call late Friday afternoon from the EPA and they asked how many people we could provide," said Ronald L. Frank, E&E's executive vice president. "We gave them a list of 50 or 60 people who were trained in that type of equipment. Out of that, they selected about 20."
E&E was called upon because the company has a contract with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide emergency response teams for disasters that take place in certain sections of the country.
The samples that are collected then are sent to a government laboratory in Bethesda, Md., to be analyzed.
This was not the first time that E&E had been tapped by the EPA to provide emergency services in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
An E&E response team worked with officials from the EPA, the FBI and military personnel to ensure safety during rescue operations at the Pentagon and the western Pennsylvania crash site of one of the hijacked commercial jets.