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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, October 23, 2001

The September 11th attack
Anthrax seen as unlikely to hit Islands

 •  Tips for sorting through the mail

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

The postal service in Hawai'i has anthrax safeguards in place, and experts doubt that Hawai'i residents will be targets for anthrax poisoning, a U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman said.

Hawai'i postal workers can wear protective gear, such as gloves and surgical masks, but the postal service does not require they wear it, said spokeswoman Felice Broglio.

In addition, the processing plant near the Honolulu International Airport has employees trained in basic hazardous material response.

Broglio said local procedures will not be changed despite the reported deaths — likely from anthrax — of two postal workers who handled mail for the Capitol in Washington, D.C. She said the office here will continue with safeguards adopted following the Sept. 11 attack.

There has been no confirmed reports of anthrax in Hawai'i, Broglio said.

"Our people got excited when the rest of the world got excited," Broglio said. "We always tell them to err on side of caution but to use common sense. It's important to educate our people first. We are the first handlers."

Broglio said experts have provided postal workers with information on anthrax and workers are constantly given "safety talks."

When the first confirmed anthrax case broke on the Mainland, postal workers were given details about the bacterium, including its treatment, she said.

On the Mainland, the anthrax mailings have hit media outlets and congressional members.

Broglio said there are just under 3,000 postal workers in Hawai'i, Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa.

The processing plant near the airport has 600 workers and handles 2 million pieces of mail daily, she said.