Biological Alarm Shuts Down Second DoD Facility
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 15, 2005 Local officials shut down three buildings leased by the Defense Department in suburban Virginia after a biological-agent detection system sounded an alarm in one of the buildings March 14.
Initial test results indicated the presence of anthrax in the building, located in the Skyline office complex in Falls Church. "At this time, it is not clear if this is a false positive or a true positive result," advised a press release from the Fairfax County government. Officials said additional tests are being conducted.
This alarm came just hours after a mail-handling facility in a Pentagon outbuilding was shut down because of a similar incident. Employees of the Remote Delivery Facility were evacuated after an alarm indicated the presence of a chemical or biological agent during normal operations. That facility remains closed for further testing.
As of this morning, all three Skyline buildings, which are interconnected, remain closed as well. Fairfax County officials said this measure is a precaution until more testing can be completed. "However, health officials stress that the general public is not at risk of exposure," the county press release stated.
The Skyline office complex houses several DoD agencies. County officials required employees there to stay inside their buildings for several hours after the alarm sounded in the afternoon. They were later advised to wash their hands and faces before departing.
Information provided to all employees told them to go directly home and place their clothing in a plastic bag and tie it. A fact sheet employees received instructed them to keep the bag in a safe place and not to disturb or open it until they receive further instructions.
On a recorded information line, a Fairfax County official advised that the initial test results at the site are preliminary and that "confirmatory tests" are being conducted. "Decisions regarding the need for antibiotic treatment and follow-up will be based on these test results," the official said.
The Fairfax County information line number is (703) 246-2411.
Employees of the Pentagon site that was evacuated were provided with a three-day regimen of antibiotics after nasal swabs were taken from all individuals for culture to test for individual exposure to anthrax, DoD officials said.