Though anthrax has turned American Media Inc's Florida headquarters into a 6,300m2 white elephant and workers are reluctant to return, experts in decontamination say new products can make such buildings safe again. \n"I, personally, would go into the building," says general counsel Mike Kahane, whose office was located in the three-story Boca Raton center that housed six of the nation's largest tabloids. "But I know many people don't feel the same way I do." \nBut experts say they can deal with anthrax-contaminated buildings, noting that no one would dream of abandoning such landmarks as the US Senate office building and NBC headquarters at New York's 30 Rockefeller Plaza just because traces of the deadly bacteria were found there. \n"You can't walk away from these buildings all over the United States," says Joan Dougherty, president of AA Trauma Cleanup in Pompano, Florida, an environmental cleanup company. \nIf the old reliable bleach and water method were the only thing available, it would be nearly impossible to clean up all the anthrax without gutting the affected areas. But people in the decontamination business are pinning their hopes on a new product developed at a government laboratory with congressional backing. \nOfficials are conducting tests on a bacteria-killing agent developed by Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is run by Lockheed Martin Corp for the US Department of Energy. The product, known in the industry as the "SNL formulation," can be used as a liquid, gel, foam, aerosol or fog. \nAnthrax spores are 1 to 5 microns in size and act like a hard shell for the bacteria. They are resistant to heat, cold, drought and radiation exposure, and can persist for decades or longer in soil. \nThe Sandia product is designed to break down the coating and attack the DNA. Ron Gospodarski, president of Bio-Recovery Corp in New York, says anthrax spores tend to clump and settle on surfaces, where this agent can reach them. \n"These spores can't burrow themselves into walls and can't burrow themselves into the flooring or the ceiling or anything like that," he says. "So when we come in and fog or we come in and foam or we come in and put topical applications of the SNL formulation, it's going to kill everything that's there." \nAMI employees are worried about anthrax in the air ducts and on computer keyboards, like the one used by deceased photo editor Robert Stevens. Gospodarski says the fog particles are smaller than the spores and can go anyplace anthrax can. \n"We're pushing that into all the little crevices that even the micron spores of anthrax couldn't fit," he says. \nCleanup at AMI in Florida is a moot point for now; the building is still an active crime scene. Even if the US$4.6 million structure could be fogged, Kahane says a "significant number of employees don't want to go back." \nGospodarski and a team were planning to enter the ABC News offices at Central Park West to do some precautionary cleanup. They were armed with the old standard -- 10 percent bleach solution. \nDespite his confidence in the technology, Gospodarski says he can understand why people are afraid. \n"That's like saying, `OK, let's rebuild the World Trade Center towers,'" he says. "But does anybody want to have that office on the 102nd floor? I don't think many hands would go up."
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
The US House of Representatives’ China Task Force, launched by Republicans earlier this year, yesterday proposed the China task force act, a package of 137 pieces of legislation, seven of which involve Taiwan, in the hope of getting it passed before the 117th US Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The act encompasses a wide range of issues, including combatting Beijing’s influence around the globe, establishing the US’ dominance in determining 5G network standards and means for bringing UN members to task for abusing their influence within the UN system. The seven acts involving Taiwan address concerns such as the Taiwan Assurance Act
Chinese health authorities investigating a COVID-19 outbreak have said that they discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday said that it had found traces of live COVID-19 on the outer packaging of frozen cod in the eastern city of Qingdao, marking the first time that live coronavirus has been detected on the outside of refrigerated goods. Researchers were investigating the source of a cluster of cases linked to a hospital in Qingdao. Genetic traces had previously been found in samples of
A Chinese soldier apprehended earlier this week by the Indian Army after he strayed across a tense de facto border was on Tuesday night handed back to China, an Indian government source in New Delhi said yesterday. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier had on Monday been captured in the Demchok area of eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said in a statement. The Chinese military also released a statement, saying that Corporal Wang Yalong was handed over early yesterday. New Delhi on Monday said that it had detained Wang after he crossed into Indian-controlled territory, while China announced that Wang had gotten