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House Side of U.S. Capitol Reopens After Asbestos Spill

Cleanup continued at the House side of the Capitol after an asbestos spill. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

The House side of the U.S. Capitol reopened at 9 a.m. after being briefly closed this morning so that Capitol Police and a hazardous materials team could address an asbestos spill that had occurred overnight. Portions of the building, though, will remain closed throughout the day. House leaders decided not to convene morning hour at 10 a.m. due to the accident, but were expected to go ahead with legislative business at noon.  

The House side returned to normal operations fairly quickly, including tours (House and South Doors are open). However, the East Grand staircase on the House side from floors 1 through 3 and room H-324 will remain closed until further notice.  

"During ongoing asbestos abatement work there was a potential release affecting the House side of the Capitol," AOC spokeswoman Laura Condeluci said in an email to CQ Roll Call. "Samples have been collected to determine whether there was potential exposure. The Architect of the Capitol and the U.S. Capitol Police are investigating and will provide updates when available."  

Capitol Police temporarily closed the House door and south door, even as the south barricade remained open.  

Pedestrian traffic proceeded as usual across the East Front. Architect of the Capitol employees brushed portions on the pavement, as staffers, tourists and Capitol Police crisscrossed the scene, even as a chemical smell lingered in the air. The plaza in front of the House steps was soaked, and what appeared to be yellow hazmat suits were draped from posts on the south side of the door, near a Capitol Police cruiser.  

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