Mercury Remediation in Progress in CU Science Building
Athens, W.Va. – Concord University has announced that elemental mercury was discovered in a small room adjacent to the physics rooms in the Science Building at Concord University.
“Even small amounts of elemental mercury require special handling and disposal,” stated Physical Plant Director, Mr. Jeff Shumaker.
Clean Harbors, CU’s hazardous waste management company, surveyed the impacted areas. Testing revealed mercury in adjacent rooms. Although elemental mercury was limited to the 3rd floor physics rooms, a decision was made to close the entire building to insure the safety of students, faculty and staff and to allow for uninterrupted cleanup by the contractors. While the building is closed, the University will use the opportunity to get rid of an accumulation of outdated equipment and to update teaching classrooms and labs.
In establishing a plan of action, Mr. Shumaker, Clean Harbors, and CU staff members contacted a number of public and private agencies. Elemental Services & Consulting, Inc., a company that specializes in mercury removal, was contacted and is also providing remediation services.
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), mercury can be found in thermometers, manometers, barometers, gauges, and valves, and it is used in amalgam dental fillings. Exposure to mercury vapor over a long period of time may cause adverse health effects.
Concord’s remediation goal will be to meet acceptable mercury vapor concentration levels as established by ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an agency of the CDC).
Faculty, students and staff who may have been affected were directed to local health care officials for screening. Blood and urine tests are typically used to determine exposure levels. The institution has not been notified that there were unacceptable levels of mercury detected.
After the cleanup, final verification surveys will be conducted. Once the mercury is removed and the teaching labs are updated, the building will be reoccupied.