Mercury clean up at DISD elementary nearly complete

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on October 30, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 30 at 5:26 PM

DALLAS -- The Environmental Protection Agency is still on the scene of a mercury spill at a Dallas elementary school.

A student confessed to spilling mercury at Urban Park Elementary about two weeks ago.

Monday, about 160 pairs of shoes were tested for possible contamination. 18 pairs tested positive for some exposure, according to EPA federal on-scene coordinator Gary Moore. Two pairs showed elevated levels of mercury on the soles.

"And those families have already come in and brought their vehicles in, [because] the kids, y'know, are getting in and out," Moore explained. "We tested those, the airspace is fine in those -- even along the carpet."

The EPA will follow up at the families' homes, to make sure mercury wasn't tracked inside.

The EPA said clean up inside the school is nearly complete. A second-floor stairwell has been decontaminated. Carpets Tuesday were being pulled up and cleaned.

Three siblings remain hospitalized after playing with a bottle of mercury they found on the railroad tracks several weeks ago. One admitted to spilling the quicksilver at Urban Park Elementary. Experts say the real danger was not at the school, but in the three kids' home where mercury levels tested high.

Mercury becomes dangerous to people when vaporized. EPA officials in charge of the cleanup say levels inside Urban Park are within normal levels.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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