Broken, old grandfather clock forces woman, neighbors out of their homes

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Residents of an Overland Park apartment complex were told they could return to their homes on Tuesday after a mercury spill caused concern there on Monday.

Overland Park Fire and Police Departments were called to out the complex in the 9100 block of Riggs Lane at about 9:30 a.m. Monday to investigate a possible hazardous materials spill found on the back porch of one of the apartments.

The woman who lived there had an antique grandfather clock that used large glass tubes as counterweights. The tubes were filled with up to 10 pounds of mercury and had broken and spilled all over her back porch. The woman was unaware that the substance which had spilled out of the tubes was potentially harmful and could pose as a threat to health and safety.

The spill was said to have happened weeks ago, however a family member of the woman discovered the spill and decided to contact authorities. The woman as well as the residents of three neighboring apartments spent the night away from their homes while the spill was investigated and the apartments were determined safe to live in.

The large amount of the substance involved in this incident was considered to be very unusual.  After an inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency, the woman was told her apartment was not safe to occupy. The three other units evacuated were determined to be safe.

The Overland Park Fire department urges anyone who needs to dispose of mercury or and other unknown substance in need of disposal, to contact their local hazardous waste disposal agency.

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