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Clean Up of Anthrax Contamination in Danbury, Conn. Residence to Begin Friday, Sept. 14

Release Date: 09/14/2007
Contact Information: U.S. EPA: Paula Ballentine, (617) 918-1027 CT DPH: Bill Gerrish, (860) 509-7106 CT DEP: Dennis Schain, (860) 424-3110 Office of Mayor Boughton: Michael McLachlan, (203) 797-4511

(Danbury, Conn. – Sept. 14, 2007) – Federal and state clean up crews will begin arriving and staging equipment at a Danbury, Conn. residence today, in preparation to begin clean up work at a house and work shed that are contaminated with a naturally-occurring strain of anthrax thought to derive from animal skins.

The work to address the anthrax contamination is being led by the U.S. EPA, in coordination with the City of Danbury, the Conn. Dept. of Public Health, the Conn. Dept. of Environmental Protection and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The clean up plan developed jointly by federal, state and local officials calls for careful intensive cleaning and follow up sampling to ensure that the anthrax contamination is completely controlled and does not pose health concerns for future residents or the neighborhood at large.

The first step under the clean up plan is the identification of all items within the buildings that may require cleaning. The buildings and their contents will first undergo HEPA vacuuming to remove visible dirt and dust that may be contaminated with anthrax spores. Clean up crews will also treat walls, ceilings, floors and other non-porous surfaces with an enhanced bleach solution. Items that can not be cleaned will inventoried before removal for safe disposal off-site at licensed facilities.

Further, a car that formerly belonged to the individual living at the residence will undergo clean up and evaluation work to ensure that it does not contain anthrax spores.

Earlier this week, laboratory analyses of samples taken at the residence and an adjacent work shed confirmed the presence of a naturally-occurring strain of anthrax at several contained locations, following the previous discovery that a resident of the house had contracted cutaneous (skin) anthrax after working with animal skins.

“EPA’s emergency responders are highly trained and experienced to protect public health and our environment by carrying out a comprehensive clean up at this property, and then to perform follow up sampling to confirm that we have removed the anthrax spores,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

Mayor Boughton said, “We are grateful to Governor Rell for sending tremendous resources from the state and federal governments to assist Danbury with this incident. This mobilization demonstrates our lengthy planning and training for emergencies over the last several years was effective and that local, state and federal government agencies can work well together to address a community emergency.”

“Working with EPA and other state and local agencies, the DEP is confident everything is being done to remedy this situation in a safe and protective manner,” said DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy. “Our goal is to make certain the home and barn are cleaned as soon as possible so that life in around this neighborhood can return to normal.”

Following this weekend’s clean up work, EPA and the involved state agencies will conduct additional sampling in the house and work shed to identify if all contamination has been removed. If there continue to be anthrax spores present, additional clean up activities will be conducted. EPA will continue to keep the community fully informed about the need for additional clean up activities.

Sampling already taken at the residence indicates that traces of anthrax are limited and contained to the actual property, and that people in the area are not at risk. Public health officials confirmed this is not a contagious condition and there is no community public health concern.

During clean up activities over the weekend, portions of Padanaram Road in Danbury (Route 37) will need to be closed from Jeanette Street to Stacy Road during the following hours of clean-up operations at 69 Padanaram Road:

Thursday, September 13th - 9:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Friday, September 14th - 6:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Saturday, September 15th - 6:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday, September 16th - 6:30 AM - 7:00 PM

EPA and the other response agencies are working closely with the City of Danbury and with the Danbury Police Dept. to minimize inconvenience to area residents. The City of Danbury and Town of New Fairfield will utilize a “reverse 911” telephone system to keep the communities informed about issues relating to the clean up work.

More information:

- Area residents can call CT DPH regarding anthrax and exposure, toll-free (800) 830-9426.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on anthrax from animal hides (http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/anthrax/faq/pelt.asp)
- EPA emergency response (http://www.epa.gov/region1/superfund/er/index.htm)
- Use of sodium hypochlorite to control anthrax (http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/chemicals/bleachfactsheet.htm)