12 INVESTIGATES: USPS Adding Mail to Sandston Plant

SANDSTON, VA (WWBT) - The U.S. Postal Service says its plans to close the Norfolk plant, and bringing all that mail to Sandston for sorting will not mean new jobs.

Just two years ago, 12 Investigates uncovered problems with sorting at the Sandston plant.

Can the plant handle the increased work load?

Sandston opened in 2009. Soon after, mail from Charlottesville was thrown into the mix and the Sandston plant was instantly plagued by problems.

Magazines went undelivered for weeks even though they were already on news stands. Mail was stacked in baskets - untouched, and often miss-marked for delivery.

In the fall of 2011 - according to a postal audit - Sandston was considered the worst in the country for delaying your mail.

At the time, the USPS told 12 Investigates it was because more people than expected retired, and Sandston didn't have the workers to handle the load.

According to a recent audit, delivery at Sandston has improved in the last year. The plant employs around 1,000 people. It's roughly the size of 13 football fields and has room to grow.

This time around, the postal service is closing a distribution center in Norfolk. The move is expected to save $20 million a year. The closure will affect 483 workers in Norfolk.

Postal service spokeswoman Michele Martel said, "we have a long history of not resorting to layoffs, and we have every intention of honoring that history."

She says some workers could be reassigned to other mail facilities, others could transfer and move to Sandston. Many are expected to retire.

The consolidation will not lead to new jobs in Sandston. An analysis done by the agency says "delivery times of mail to residences and businesses will not change."

The plant closing will happen in phases - slowly increasing the workload in Sandston. They already processes around 550,000 pieces of mail a day from mail boxes, blue boxes and lobby drops. By June, Norfolk's closure will add another 302,000 pieces of mail to that number.

All mail in and out of Norfolk will be sent to Sandston by 2014.

The postal service lost a record $16 billion last year. Last month, Congress rejected a plan to eliminate Saturday delivery - that would have saved the agency an estimated $2 billion a year.

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