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Postal Service to delay plant closings | Business

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Postal Service to delay plant closings

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Postal Service, which earlier this month announced plans to close more than half of its 461 mail-processing plants, now says it won't move forward on the closings until next May.

"In response to a request made by multiple U.S. Senators, [the Postal Service] has agreed to delay the closing or consolidation of any post office or mail processing facility until May 15, 2012," the agency said in a statement.

The Postal Service did not identify any of the senators.

Under review for possible closure in Georgia are facilities in Acworth, Albany, Athens, Augusta, Cartersville, Columbus, Douglasville, Marietta, Savannah, Swainsboro, Valdosta and Waycross.

The Postal Service will continue its review process, including public input meetings, but said it hopes the delay will provide time to get comprehensive postal legislation passed.

The Postal Service needs congressional approval to defer retiree benefits payments and to end Saturday delivery. Closing postal facilities also requires approval from the agency's regulator.

Closing processing facilities would lower delivery standards for first-class mail, shifting delivery to two to three days instead of one in most cases.

The Postal Service has forecast a $14.1 billion loss in fiscal 2012, citing declining mail volume.