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FBI finds anthrax in newspaper copy machines

FBI investigators say photocopy machines were the reason anthrax spores spread so far and so quickly in a newspaper office where a tainted letter was mailed in last year’s attacks. As reported by the Associated Press, federal investigators found spores in all the copy machines in the three-story, 68,000 square foot building. The investigators returned to the building for 12 days armed with new tools and techniques for detecting anthrax. Investigators said they believe the spores spread from the first-floor mail room where the letter was opened, onto reams of nearby copy paper. When that paper was later loaded into copy machines, the anthrax spread both on the sheets of paper and through the air, blown by the copy machines’ internal fans. National Enquirer photo editor Robert Stevens died from anthrax in October, the first of five people to die nationwide in the mailings. A mailroom employee was hospitalized with anthrax but survived.

Anthrax probe to use new methods

Nearly a year after an editor at American Media Inc. died from anthrax exposure, FBI officials said a new search of the contaminated ghost-like AMI building could find the source of the fatal spores and the person who unleashed them. The Miami Herald reports the search of the shuttered Boca Raton building will use new and different techniques than those employed in an initial search last fall. “Last year, we were in the building for a different reason,” the paper quotes Hector Pesquera, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Miami division. “This investigation will be scientifically driven for a criminal investigation.” Last year’s investigation focused on mailrooms and areas surrounding the infected employees’ workstations. This time, scientists will search the entire three-story, 67,000-square-foot building. American Media publishes several tabloid newspapers, including The National Enquirer.