LAWMAKERS -- BUY BOCA RATON ANTHRAX BUILDING



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Last Updated

29 Jan 2003

Source: Lakeland Ledger (FL), January 28, 2003

Lawmakers Want Government to Buy Boca Raton Anthrax Building

The Associated Press

BOCA RATON -- Two Florida lawmakers said Monday that they want the federal government to buy and clean up the offices of a tabloid publisher targeted in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw said the government would pay $1 to acquire the $10 million American Media Inc. building and its two acres. Cleanup costs could run anywhere from $10 million to $100 million, which was the cost of clearing anthrax out the Brentwood Post Office in Washington, the lawmakers said.

"You've got a building loaded with anthrax, and who is going to clean it up? Only the federal government," Nelson said. After the cleanup, the building could be sold or used by the government as office space.

The proposal is part of a spending plan passed by the Senate last week, Nelson said.

Both Nelson and Shaw plan to work the phones and push appropriations committees in the Senate and House to reach a compromise that will keep the AMI proposal in the bill. They expect a final vote in about a week.

Photo editor Robert Stevens (case 5) died from anthrax in October 2001, the first of five people to die nationwide in the anthrax attacks. Ernesto Blanco (case 7), who worked in the AMI mailroom, was hospitalized with anthrax but survived. No one has been charged.

The American Media building has been under continuous security since it was placed under federal quarantine Oct. 7, 2001. The company, which publishes six supermarket tabloids, including The National Enquirer and Globe, moved its headquarters to rented offices nearby.