After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, overnight shippers, e.g., FEDEX, advised the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) offices that they faced delivery delays because the airlines had been grounded. In addition, DOT requested that, beginning October 16, 2001, the United States Postal Service (USPS) halt most mail deliveries until it could put in place appropriate safety measures to address the potential threat from anthrax-contaminated mail. Mail caught in transit between October 13 and October 22 at DC’s Brentwood Facility, where testers found traces of anthrax, may be part of quarantined mail that DOT might never receive. Mail sent to DOT from mid-October to November 27 has been significantly delayed. DOT began receiving mail again on November 28. Even now, the USPS continues to irradiate first class and express mail bound for DOT. This means that DOT will receive mail after delays of a week or more.
DOT does not know the full extent of the impact delayed or blocked mail delivery will have on informal rulemaking proceedings and preemption determination proceedings for the Research and Special Programs Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. However, DOT will take this interruption of mail service into account, with respect to DOT rulemakings or preemption determination proceedings with comment periods that closed before mail delivery resumed on November 28, 2001. Because DOT cannot be sure if they received filings sent just before October 13 or when, if ever, they will receive filings and comments caught in Brentwood between October 13 and November 27, please check the Dockets Web page (http://dms.dot.gov) to see if DOT received and processed your document(s). If your document is not in the electronic docket, DOT may not have received it. Please bear in mind that processing a document into the electronic system after receipt may take up to eight business days, especially since the DOT Mail Room must x-ray and screen all package deliveries prior to their acceptance into the DOT Docket Management System.
DOT’s complete notice on this issue is available on RCP’s website here.