Metro Inspectors Find No Safety Hazards

Following the partial ceiling collapse at the Farragut North Metro station July 14, transit workers inspected all 46 underground stations and found no visible signs of problems or safety hazards in the rest of the system, officials said yesterday.

Metro Deputy General Manager James Gallagher said the collapsed portion of the Farragut North Station, at the L Street entrance west of Connecticut Avenue, had been anchored incorrectly with "substandard" materials in 1985 by the developer of the Washington Square retail and office complex above the station entrance. Plastic anchors were used to support the plaster and cement ceiling, he said. No one was injured when the ceiling collapsed.

The inspectors also discovered water leaks above a portion of the ceiling at the entrance of the Federal Triangle Station. Water damage also was found in the ceiling at the 13th and G Street NW entrance to Metro Center. Neither problem poses a safety hazard, and repairs are either scheduled or expected, Gallagher said.

Metro managers said they will add ceilings to the routine annual inspections of stations.


Hazmat Crews Investigate Vehicle in NW

Authorities blocked off Connecticut Avenue NW for about two hours yesterday morning after a U.S. Secret Service canine unit drew attention to a vehicle parked in front of the Chinese Embassy.

Inside the vehicle was a large jar with a clear liquid and a straw, authorities. Police officials were concerned that the straw might have been a fuse.

The liquid was found to be harmless, said Alan Etter, public information officer for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Hazmat officials did not say what the liquid was, he said.

The portion of Connecticut Avenue near the embassy in the 2300 block was closed at about 10 a.m. and reopened about noon.

District to Expand Use of Oral HIV Test

District health officials plan to introduce a newly approved oral HIV test in September.

The test, which can be used in nonclinical settings and provides same-day preliminary results based on a saliva sample, received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in March. It will be on the market this month.

The Department of Health's HIV/AIDS Administration uses OraQuick to provide same-day preliminary HIV results based on blood samples. Using this method, officials tested more than 300 people at a June National HIV Testing Day celebrity basketball tournament, reaching nearly twice as many young people as in previous years.


I-95 Closed After Series of Accidents

Interstate 95 was closed in both directions just north of Richmond yesterday for about 25 minutes after a tree that fell across the right southbound lane triggered several accidents, including one involving a tractor-trailer carrying hand grenades.

The truck, carrying 34 pounds of U.S. government-owned grenades from Delaware to a military installation in Norfolk, stopped after hitting the tree, said M.J. Flournoy, chief fire marshal of Hanover County's Fire and Emergency Management Services department.

One vehicle pulling a camper swerved to avoid hitting the tree and jackknifed, then went off the road into the median. There were no injuries reported in the accidents, which closed the southbound side of the highway for about two hours.

Supervisor Says She Has Breast Cancer

Fairfax County Supervisor Joan M. DuBois (R-Dranesville) announced yesterday that she has breast cancer and that she plans to start treatment in September. The illness was detected in April through a routine mammogram, she said, and she urged women who have not had a mammogram to "make that appointment today."

She decided to go public about her illness because some constituents were "starting to ask questions" about her absences.


Montgomery Warned on Importing Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration and pharmacists called on Montgomery County on Monday to reject a plan that would make it Maryland's first jurisdiction to import Canadian prescription drugs.

Drugs sold outside the United States, often through Internet sites, are outside federal regulatory and safety control, said Thomas McGinnis, director of pharmacy affairs at the FDA. McGinnis would not say if the FDA will take legal action against the county if the council passes the legislation. It will send the council a letter warning that the program is illegal but will wait until Congress acts on the issue before filing any lawsuits, he said.

Montgomery County spends about $60 million each year on prescription drugs for about 26,000 current and former employees and their family members. A report concluded that the county could save as much as $15 million a year by importing the cheaper drugs.

The council is to vote on the legislation Sept. 14.

Teen Dies, Four Hurt in Pr. George's Crash

A 13-year-old boy was killed last night and four other people were injured in a two-car collision in Prince George's County, police said.

The accident happened about 9 p.m. on Church Road near Mount Oak Road in the Mitchellville area.

Cpl. Diane Richardson, a police spokeswoman, said investigators were looking into the possibility that a Toyota Corolla with two passengers -- the 13-year-old and another boy -- crossed the center line and collided with an oncoming Isuzu Axiom.

The 13-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the scene, Richardson said. The driver of the Corolla and the other child were treated at a hospital. The extent of their injuries was unclear, she said. The Isuzu's driver and a passenger, an elementary-school-age child, were treated at a hospital for injuries deemed not life-threatening, Richardson said.

The accident is under investigation, Richardson said. The name of the 13-year-old was not immediately released.

Reward for Conviction in Cow Shooting

The animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offered a $2,500 reward yesterday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever was responsible for shooting a cow at a Frederick County farm on July 4.

The money is in addition to $1,000 offered by the Humane Society of the United States. The shooting of the cow at a farm near Libertown was the second such attack this year. In March, two cows died and two were injured when someone slashed them.

"I knew in my mind this was history in the making."

-- Theresa Walterbach, remembering the summer when revelations by Monica S. Lewinsky captivated the capital. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Dakarai I. Aarons, Michelle Boorstein, Fredrick Kunkle, Lyndsey Layton, Arielle Levin Becker and Lisa Rein and the Associated Press.