Nickles' staff returns to closed office in anthrax-contaminated building

Wednesday, January 23rd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ None of Sen. Don Nickles' staff members had qualms about returning to their offices in the Hart Senate Office Building, which has reopened after being partially contaminated by anthrax spores several months ago.

``I think everyone feels very comfortable and confident that it's safe,'' Gayle Osterberg, Nickles' press secretary, told The Daily Oklahoman's Washington bureau on Tuesday. ``I think everyone was just very enthusiastic about not being in a little basement room anymore.''

The building was closed Oct. 17 after it was found that a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office contained anthrax spores.

Nickles' office, on the first floor, was not contaminated. Nickles, R-Okla., has a separate office in the Capitol where he spends much of his time when the Senate is in session.

His staff at the Hart building was moved to an office the size of a large conference room in the basement of an adjoining Senate building.

The staff shared six computer terminals and worked without many of their files and equipment, Osterberg said.

``All of that was inconvenient to say the least,'' Osterberg said. ``Everyone has been working hard for the last three months, but we were all very happy to get back to our work space.''

Most of the plants in the building have died, but everything in Nickles' office was ``pretty much like we left it,'' Osterberg said.

``It was just a little bit eerie (returning), having been locked out for the past three months,'' she said. ``But we sat right down, and our computers all worked and our phones all worked, and I think everyone was pleasantly surprised that everything seemed normal.''