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Archive for Thursday, May 7, 2009

Federal authorities cleaning up mercury spill in Alabama Street home

Methamphetamine found inside house on Alabama Street

Federal authorities spent much of the week cleaning up a mercury spill in a Lawrence home.

May 7, 2009, 4:02 p.m. Updated May 7, 2009, 4:02 p.m.

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Hazardous material tape surrounded the entryways to 831 Ala. on Thursday, a residence where federal authorities conducted a multiday cleanup of a mercury spill.

Behind the caution tape, Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials had posted bright orange signs near the doors indicating the home may have been used as an illegal drug manufacturing site. Spokeswoman Maggie Thompson said methamphetamine was found inside the home.

About a pound, or two to three tablespoons, of mercury inside a toilet spilled onto the floor of a bathroom inside the residence, creating a hazard, Environmental Protection Agency representatives said.

The mercury spill occurred Monday while the landlord and property owner was changing out a toilet stool in one side of the home, which is a duplex, said Chris Whitley, EPA spokesman.

“When he lifted (the toilet) up off the wax ring that connects it to the floor, there was some liquid mercury that spilled out onto the floor,” he said.

During the mercury spill cleanup, state officials were called to investigate evidence of meth in the house, said Maggie Thompson, Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokeswoman.

It is uncommon for mercury to be found in a toilet, said Doug Ferguson, an EPA representative on scene.

Though rare, Whitley said, mercury can be used to make meth. He said there were no indications that the discovered mercury had anything to do with drug activity.

Lawrence Police Sgt. Bill Cory said officers are in the middle of a drug investigation but “it is unknown if the mercury spill is connected.” He said no arrests have been made.

The EPA had been cleaning up the mercury spill since Tuesday, Whitley said.

The occupants of the other side of the duplex said they were kept out of their home Monday night, but were allowed to return Tuesday.

Comments

tolawdjk 5 years, 2 months ago

Less than a gallon?

A gallon of mercury is still something like 113 lbs.

There is a big difference between 0-113 lbs of something!

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George_Braziller 5 years, 2 months ago

My how times have changed. When I was in junior high school in the mid '70s there was an open beaker full of mercury on the lab counter in the science room. We played with it all the time. However I really can't understand why there would be mercury in a toilet.

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50YearResident 5 years, 2 months ago

I know my toilet doesn't contain mercury. I wonder how long these people have been dumping mercury into our sewer system?

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lovethehill 5 years, 2 months ago

If there are no indications of the mercury being used to make drugs- then why is there an ongoing drug investigation? And if "no arrests have been made", does that mean that arrests MAY be made? It seems like there must be more to this story....

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John Spencer 5 years, 2 months ago

tolawdjk (Anonymous) says… Less than a gallon?

Where does it say anything about a gallon except in your statement?

George, Same here, we had a plastic bottle full of it. Used to roll it all over the place.

50Year, not as long as area companies have been dumping all kinds of toxins in the rivers and lake and ground water all around our town.

lovethehill, read the article, they FOUND meth in the house... thats why there is an investigation.

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lovethehill 5 years, 2 months ago

WereAllMonkeys- An older article stated less than a gallon....and I was looking at the older article also...

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igby 5 years, 2 months ago

There could have been Mercury settled at the bottom of the toilets p-trap for a very long time. When the owner pulled the stool and tipped it over, it could of dumped out and made a mess.

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tolawdjk 5 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, the original article stated "less than a gallon" when I stated the 113 lb number. I seriously doubted the value when I read it originally...I'm not sure how you can store a gallon of mercury in a toilet. I would also think that the treatment plant would notice that quantity of a heavy metal filtering through the system.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 2 months ago

It is uncommon for mercury to be found in a toilet, said Doug Ferguson, an EPA representative on scene.


whew, that makes me feel better.

maybe the occupants were getting rid of a few old CFL bulbs via the toilet?


okay George, that explains a lot. ever heard the expression "mad as a hatter? hatters worked with mercury.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 2 months ago

EPA arrives tuesday. newspaper coverage thursday. huh.

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Sean Livingstone 5 years, 2 months ago

For those of you who complain about "big" government, and distrust government.... EPA is the government where you tax dollars are spent....

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cadillac 5 years, 2 months ago

so, is you say'in that, that there mercery my dentest stuck in my teeth when i was a ked is bad for me? He let me mix it in with that pretty silver powdery stuff. i never seen him get it from the toilet.

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Chris Ogle 5 years, 2 months ago

Does Meth and mercury have something in common???Maybe that's why most meth heads are missing teeth, and have nervous disorders.

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redmoonrising 5 years, 2 months ago

Showing my age here, but when I was a kid, we always played with the stuff when someone broke a thermometer. It was fun rolling those little silver balls around. Maybe the mercury in my fillings explains the voices in my head. Ah, just kidding but it's a wonder some of us are still alive if the stuff is so dangerous. At least I (tic) don't have(tic) the brain damage that (tic) cadillac seemed to suffer (tic tic).

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Kirk Larson 5 years, 2 months ago

Metallic (silvery liquid) mercury is pretty stable, but if it gets warm or sits around long enough it lets off mercury vapor which can get into your tissues. You could actually swallow metallic mercury and not absorb very much (although I wouldn't recommend it). The worst is dissolved mercury or organo-mercury compounds which are readily absorbed. As to CFL's, I've read where even if all the the mercury in them were released into the environment it would still be less than the mercury that would be released from coal-fired electrical power plants that would be released if the CFL's were not used. But of course, you should recycle your CFL's. Mercury IS nasty stuff and should be controlled.

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jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

It's easy to do as well.

Just take them to Home Depot and they will dispose of them properly.

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jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

And, of course, if you want to compare CFL's to regular bulbs, you have to include the fact that CFL's last much longer.

Thus, one must add the environmental impact of producing many more incandescent bulbs to the equation.

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yoornotmee 5 years, 2 months ago

"Where in the hell was the EPA, FDA, whoever, when drug companies were poisoning my son with mercury in his vaccines!!!!!!"

You could have read up on the vaccines and found out what was in them before allowing them to be injected into your son. The drug companies didn't force you to vaccinate him with mercury-containing vaccines; no one is responsible for the health of your child other than you.

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Sean Livingstone 5 years, 2 months ago

"redmoonrising (Anonymous) says… Showing my age here, but when I was a kid, we always played with the stuff when someone broke a thermometer. It was fun rolling those little silver balls around. Maybe the mercury in my fillings explains the voices in my head. Ah, just kidding but it's a wonder some of us are still alive if the stuff is so dangerous. At least I (tic) don't have(tic) the brain damage that (tic) cadillac seemed to suffer (tic tic)."

I'd suggest you read something about mercury poisoning before suggesting something.... that looks pretty "kiddy". Sure I do play with mercury when I was young, but mercury comes in different form.

It's the same how you deal with meat.... if you eat it raw, the chance of getting disease is pretty high..... especially when it's not fresh. But if you cook it, it's fine... hey, it's still meat, isn't it?

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Jaylee 5 years, 2 months ago

really? a pound is only two or three tablespoons?

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Kirk Larson 5 years, 2 months ago

Jaylee (Anonymous) says… really? a pound is only two or three tablespoons?

Mercury is very heavy. It's way down there on the periodic table.

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dedicatedtomyjob 5 years, 2 months ago

i know the guy who owns the house personally... there was way more mercury than that. i read this article and laughed at everything they left out

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dedicatedtomyjob 5 years, 2 months ago

actually the stuff from the dentist is refined and non toxic. thats WHY they use it... if it were dangerous why would we let them put it in out mouth? however, unrefined mercury is very dangerous, even deadly in great ammounts.

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Kirk Larson 5 years, 2 months ago

dedicatedtomyjob (Anonymous) says… actually the stuff from the dentist is refined and non toxic. thats WHY they use it… if it were dangerous why would we let them put it in out mouth? however, unrefined mercury is very dangerous, even deadly in great ammounts.

Refined? No. Mixed up with other metals so it's fixed in an amalgam. Yes. It can still release vapor over long periods of time, but it's a lot less than you get from eating a can of tuna.

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dedicatedtomyjob 5 years, 2 months ago

cappy(anonymous), have you reasearched? or are you a dentist?? lol :) if your a dentist, i need a cleaning... :D

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Kirk Larson 5 years, 2 months ago

It's sort of in my line of work.

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dedicatedtomyjob 5 years, 2 months ago

Cappy (Anonymous) says…

It's sort of in my line of work.

i see (said the blind man) lol

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dedicatedtomyjob 5 years, 2 months ago

bearded_gnome (Anonymous) says…

It is uncommon for mercury to be found in a toilet, said Doug Ferguson, an EPA representative on scene.

– whew, that makes me feel better. maybe the occupants were getting rid of a few old CFL bulbs via the toilet?


okay George, that explains a lot. ever heard the expression “mad as a hatter? hatters worked with mercury.

hatters also made hats

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dedicatedtomyjob 5 years, 2 months ago

lovethehill (Anonymous) says…

If there are no indications of the mercury being used to make drugs- then why is there an ongoing drug investigation? And if “no arrests have been made”, does that mean that arrests MAY be made? It seems like there must be more to this story….

in fact there is. the people liveing in the house before the toilet was fixed wer kids from another state, but are currently attending KU. mercury is used on the east and west coasts to make meth.
the police secured the property overnight and the boys tried to break in and get their drugs. the only reason they havent been arrested yet is because they attend the local college.

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ralphralph 5 years, 2 months ago

CFL bulbs -- people aren't going to take them to Home Depot or anywhere else; they are going to toss them in the trash and they'll end up in the landfill where, I assume, the mercury will leach into the groundwater and cause a greater problem than what they are claimed to alleviate. This is the reality.

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lovethehill 5 years, 2 months ago

The boys that lived there now are from another state also...

dedicatedtomyjob- How do you know they tried to sneak back? Police were guarding the house the whole first night from what Ii could tell.

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George_Braziller 5 years, 2 months ago

When I was nine or ten years old I was curious as to what would happen when you put a candy thermometer into an open flame on the stove. Of course the mercury expanded to the point it broke the glass, but hey, I was in grade school and curious. I didn't know it would break. I put the few drops into a small jar and I still have it today.


redmoonrising (Anonymous) says… Showing my age here, but when I was a kid, we always played with the stuff when someone broke a thermometer. It was fun rolling those little silver balls around.

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gaptoothgrin 5 years, 2 months ago

@keebler1rk :: i'm sorry to hear about your child, and i'm sorry for the insensitivity of the individuals that make blanket statements instead of researching what they seem to simply believe.

@Cappy :: thank you for your comments, you obviously have knowledge on the subject, which means you likely read information and gathered facts (unfortunately rare in post forums), very much appreciated.

@imnotyoo (Molly Lang) :: maybe you should have asked a question before you gave a directive. do you know the extenuating circumstances in keebler1rk's case? i'm not saying you're wrong...cause i don't know enough about his/her situation...but it's possible that this individual was mislead or misinformed about the possible implications of taking a vaccine containing thimerosal. A panel of medical evaluators at the Department of Health and Human Services recently made a recommendation that Hannah Poling's family be compensated for damages done to her by vaccines, so i'd say speaking in absolutes is a little presumptuous. i'm sure you'll be able to tell me what i should do with my life though...maybe you don't think the government has any roll in our protection, in which case we'd need to disband the CDC, the FDA, the EPA, let the police and firemen go private (if you don't pay ahead they don't save), and let's get rid of traffic lights and stop signs while we're at it. otherwise, let's have a substantive conversation. here's some reading if you're up for it.

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1721109,00.html

http://www.epa.gov/hg/exposure.htm

http://www.ewg.org/node/22668

http://rathausartprojects.com/blog/2009/02/03/high-fructose-corn-syrupsweet-irony-or-damage-control/

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