USDA reopens some offices

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture reopened most of the facilities targeted by anonymous threats.

The threats came through email, and the agency closed six offices in five states while local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked to determine the credibility of the threats.

“USDA continues to work with local and federal law enforcement, including the FBI, to assess the seriousness of the e-mail threats received yesterday,” Matthew Herrick, director of communications at USDA, said in a statement. “As such, we have determined that the situation now allows us to begin reopening most of our facilities with enhanced security.”

Herrick said most facilities will reopen with additional security enhancements, including the presence of law enforcement or security personnel on site. “For the remaining sites, we continue working to ensure these offices will be ready to reopen, safely and securely, as soon as possible,” Herrick added.

The Forest Service in Ft. Collins, Colorado, will reopen at noon local time. All other USDA Offices and the ARS Plains Area office in Ft. Collins will reopen at normal time. Other agencies slated to open at normal time include:

  • the George Washington Carver Center, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, the National Agricultural Library and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Northeast Area Office in Beltsville, Maryland;
  • All USDA offices in Raleigh, North Carolina; and
  • Kearneysville, West Virginia.

Offices that will remain closed Aug. 31 include offices in Leetown, West Virginia; and the Forest Service office and Natural Resource Conservation office in Hamden, Connecticut.

“For those remaining offices, a bit more time is needed either to get additional security enhancements in place for a safe and secure opening or to make official notifications to union representatives,” Herrick said. “We hope to resolve the outstanding issues to ensure these offices will be ready to reopen, safely and securely, as soon as possible.”

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