DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Clean up continues at one North Texas elementary school following a mercury spill. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and the North Texas Poison Center have been at Urban Park Elementary School for several days.
Apparently the mercury was spilled almost two weeks ago, but no one became aware of the incident until several DISD students were hospitalized.
“It was through the hospitalization that we learned about this,” explained DISD spokesperson Jon Dahlander. “The student started exhibiting some mercury-poisoning symptoms on Thursday. And then on Friday as they began to talk with the students about where the mercury may have been that’s when the issue arose on our end.”
In all three students, only one of them enrolled at Urban Park, have been hospitalized. Dahlander said the highly toxic metallic was brought onto the campus by one of them. “The mercury was brought to school by a student who found a container of it near his or her home. They brought it to school during a parent/teacher conference that was taking place on October 17.”
The student reportedly found the mercury near a set of train tracks and had taken it home and played with it for a few days before taking it to school.
While the event happened earlier this month cleanup only began over the weekend. DISD administrators say that’s because no one was aware a spill had even occurred. “We weren’t notified about this spill until Friday, and then we were able to go back and try to retrace the steps of where the mercury might have been. Then we determined that there were some levels of mercury that were found that needed to be properly cleaned up from the school,” Dahlander said.
Mercury poisoning symptoms include tremors and hallucinations. It is believed the three hospitalized students, who are siblings, are the only ones sickened by the mercury and Dahlander said a “normal day of school” is taking place at Urban Park.
“We have cordoned off a couple of the rooms so we’ve moved students to other classrooms within the building, but that’s a minor inconvenience and we expect them to be back later on this week,” he said. “They’re [the rooms] being tested just out of an abundance of caution to make sure that everything’s fine.”
To ensure the safety of everyone some students shoes are bring tested to make sure they didn’t walk through the mercury and pick up some levels of it on their feet.
It isn’t known exactly how much mercury was spilled.
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