Senate Rooms Reopen After Asbestos Scare

The Senate's cloakrooms and press gallery were reopening Wednesday, a day after they had been shut down because asbestos (search) was detected in the adjacent Senate chamber.

The Senate web site said the rooms were opening. It provided no detail on what, if any, levels of asbestos had been detected.

The Senate conducted business as usual on Tuesday after workers removed asbestos particles from the chamber.

A piece of the fiber was discovered in the chamber's ventilation system Sunday night as work on an asbestos abatement project was ending, said Eva Malecki, spokeswoman for the Capitol architect's office.

Tests in the chamber found readings as high as 99 structures per square millimeter. Federal law considers anything above 70 to be a problem. A structure is an asbestos particle or piece of a particle.

Officials realized Tuesday that similar problems might exist in the cloakrooms and press gallery because they share some auxiliary ducts with the chamber, Malecki said. Reporters and press gallery staff were told to leave the gallery at about 1 p.m. EDT.

Malecki said the rooms were evacuated as a precaution. Tests were conducted and cleanups began Tuesday.