Exploding package reminds postal workers of anthrax attacks

A package that ignited at a postal facility in Washington, D.C., on January 7 brought back painful memories of the 2001 anthrax attacks for the postal workers that were involved.

The package, addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, followed two packages that were found on January 7 in Maryland state government facilities, according to the AP.

Mail processing stopped at the D.C. facility until it could be cleared by bomb sniffing dogs. A meeting was held the next morning with workers, the postal union and the local postmaster.

Postal workers union President Dena Briscoe acknowledged that the meeting was helpful, but said that the experience had shaken many of the employees, most of whom were sorting mail in 2001, when letters containing anthrax were sent to law makers and news organizations, according to the AP.

"One of the ladies was crying because these episodes are bringing those feelings and those emotions and those memories back," Briscoe said, according to the AP. "We want them to feel safe and secure and be able to trust management to respond properly if this were to happen again."

Postal officials have installed new sensors and safety equipment since 2001.

Briscoe told the AP that managers failed to follow proper safety procedures when the smoking and popping package was uncovered. Because managers failed to alert the building on the public address system, those in the back did not know that they were supposed to evacuate. She called the process very sloppy.

Workers at the facility said they should have been given mandatory talks on safety because of the discovery of the other packages in the Maryland system.