A ton of high-priority mail sat for three months at a Federal Way postal center until it was discovered in a trailer this week.
The mail - 2,100 pounds, mostly priority parcels with some first-class letters and larger first-class envelopes - was spotted behind some equipment. Workers found it Sunday during a routine check of trailers and sent it on its way to the middle and Eastern United States.
Most of the mail came from Eastern Washington and North Idaho, where it was mislabeled and incorrectly sent to the Postal Service’s Bulk Mail Center in Federal Way, postal officials said.
The letters and packages were mailed sometime before the first of the year. They will arrive at their destinations at least 82 days late.
“This is extremely unfortunate,” said Al DeSarro, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service’s western area, which includes Washington. “We really regret what’s happened. The workers (at the Federal Way center) feel very bad about it.”
Federal Way workers aren’t really to blame, DeSarro said.
The error was made by a Spokane employee who mislabled the mail, he said, and probably wouldn’t have happened at all if nasty holiday weather wasn’t shutting down airports, clogging freeways and throwing postal employees into a frenzy just trying to keep up.
The employee has been spoken to about taking corrective action to ensure it doesn’t happen again, DeSarro said.
After complaints started coming in about the missing mail, postal officials had the Spokane facility searched. The service settled with those who had insured their packages, and continued to look.
The mail was finally discovered Sunday in Federal Way during a routine inspection of the trailers.