Disclaimer! Ruralinfo.net is not sponsored or authorized by the NRLCA, the USPS or any state or local association. Click here to read full disclaimer

Postal Déjà vu

Share via

Most people do not think of the job of a Postal worker as being a dangerous job.  In reality, there are a lot of dangers Postal workers face both in the plants and post offices and on the street delivering mail.  This brings me to the Ricin laced letters sent through the mail.  These letters were sent to some important people in this country.  While of course, it was important who they were sent to, much more important in my opinion, are those that handled the letters while they were travelling through the mail stream.

I did a search and could only find a couple of articles that even mentioned the Postal workers that handled the Ricin laced letters.  The main stream media practically ignored the issue.  Those affected were members of the APWU and the union was not even informed.  They had to hear it from news reports along with most of the employees.

While I can understand, in an organization this size, it takes a little while to enact a response, the news media should not have been informed before the employees that might have been affected.

So far, no Postal employees have reported showing symptoms or feeling ill from exposure to these letters.  The USPS has said that the ricin in the letters is not believed to be in a form that would pose an inhalation or other risk to postal employees.

That is great, but- What if it was lethal?  Were the employees notified in time to avoid exposure if it had been lethal?  Would hearing about it on the news have been too late?

Postal Déjà vu … We have been through this before:

Just weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with the country still wracked with fear and anger, we learned of another deadly threat: Anthrax was being sent through the mail. Despite the dangers, postal workers kept the mail moving, as the nation confronted a new and unknown menace.

Two postal workers lost their lives in the 2001 attacks, along with others who came in contact with the anthrax laced letters.

Workers at the Brentwood plant were outraged that their facility had not been closed immediately after it was determined that the letters sent to Sen. Daschle and others on Capitol Hill had been processed there.

“We felt our employer took our lives for granted,” recalled Dena Briscoe, current President of the Nation’s Capital Southern MD Area Local.

“Management shouldn’t have waited for CDC to order the plant closed,” she added. “When the plant was being tested, we saw outside officials walking around in biohazard suits, and wondered why we were allowed to be in the building with no protection. Read more about the 2001 Anthrax attacks here

So, the question is, did the USPS react quick enough to avoid more tragic deaths of postal workers if the ricin laced letters had been lethal? Have we learned anything from the 2001 Anthrax attacks? If something like this happens in the future, can we feel satisfied that employees will be safe?

Often the everyday heroes behind major events get forgotten.  But usually these everyday heroes are the ones that are closest to the danger.  Let’s hope, moving forward, that we have learned from past mistakes because our lives depend on it.

Share via
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share this
Send this to a friend