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Last Updated

19 Oct 2002

Source:  The Virginian-Pilot, October 19, 2002.

Truckload of anthrax-related waste coming to Norfolk

By SCOTT HARPER, The Virginian-Pilot

NORFOLK -- State environmental regulators on Friday approved a request to ship one truckload of anthrax-related wastes from NBC headquarters in New York to an incinerator in Norfolk for disposal.

The materials -- protective gear, office equipment, papers, carpets -- will arrive by police escort at American Waste Industries on East Indian River Road some time next week and be burned, officials said.

City officials and local lawmakers were informed of the decision in advance, they said Friday -- unlike in January, when state regulators and the south Norfolk waste company came under fire for not telling people about shipments from anthrax cleanups in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

"All loops have been connected this time; everyone's in line with this,'' city spokesman Bob Batcher said Friday.

Robert L. Earl, president of American Waste Industries, said the material is part of an earlier disposal contract that was put on hold because of national security concerns.

As before, Earl said, the wastes will arrive at his plant after being decontaminated with a chlorine solution and "really pose no health risk to anyone.''

They are burned at temperatures between 1,400 and 1,800 degrees; anthrax spores are not thought to survive temperatures above 300 degrees, experts have said.

NBC headquarters in New York City was the site of an anthrax attack last year, along with congressional offices and postal facilities in Washington and New Jersey.

Cleanup crews, wearing plastic "moon suits,'' scoured the buildings before reopening them. Those suits, along with cleanup equipment and any office materials that may have been exposed to anthrax spores, are what will be coming to Norfolk.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality received the shipment request Friday and approved it later that day, spokesman Bill Hayden said.

For security reasons, Hayden would not say what day the materials would arrive or what route from New York would be used.

The materials amount to 60 cubic yards, ``or enough to fill one regular tractor-trailer,'' Hayden said.