Broken grandfather clock counterweight tubes spill mercury at apartment

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – A hazardous materials investigation conducted by the Overland Park Fire Department found that broken glass tubes spilled mercury at a woman’s apartment on the 9100 block of Riggs Lane. The tubes were used as counterweights for a grandfather clock and may have been broken for weeks without the resident knowing the substance posed a danger.

The fire department stated in a release that the tubes may have contained up to 10 pounds of mercury. The apartment has been cleared but the woman has not been able to return to her home. An investigation into three neighboring units found that they were safe from a dangerous level of exposure.

The Environmental Protection Agency is now working with the apartment complex to finish cleaning up the apartment and to ensure that it is safe for occupation. Residents have been told to contact the Centers for Disease Control to find out whether they were exposed to dangerous levels of the substance.

The department also said that mercury spills aren’t uncommon, but the amount for this particular case was abnormal. They also advise that anyone who comes into contact with mercury or an unknown substance should contact their local hazardous waste disposal agency.

Editor's Note: The video above is courtesy of the Overland Park Fire Department

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