A mercury spill found on the floor of Oswego, New York’s westside water treatment plant has been cleaned.
A half-cup mercury spill found on the basement floor of Oswego, New York’s westside water treatment plant has been cleaned up.
The spill was discovered by maintenance workers during a routine inspection of the area, reported NNY360. The mercury-filled meters are two decades old and out of commission.
The meters were leaned up against the basement wall and one or both leaked.
Each of the meters can contain up to 12 pounds of mercury, according to NNY360. Both meters were removed along with the spill.
“The plan is to replace those,” said Oswego Fire Department Chief Randall Griffin. “The meters are fine and they’re safe because the mercury is sealed, but it’s a matter of obviously we don’t want this to happen again.”
The spill was cleaned using a hand-held suction device and a powder that, when mixed with the mercury, hardens it into a solid.
The water used to rinse everything and those cleaning off was contained and pumped off into a containment vessel, which will be tested by an outside environmental company, reported NNY360. Contaminated hazmat suits will be disposed of accordingly.
The solidified mercury was put into a double container and will be handled by the environmental testing firm. The leaking meters were wrapped up and taken out by the hazmat team. What fell out of them was cleaned up as well.
“It doesn’t look like a lot, half a cup of mercury, it doesn’t seem like a big emergency, nor was this really a big emergency, but at the same time, we’re going to take the proper steps to make sure we’re not exposing people and we’re not spreading the contamination to other places,” Griffin said. “So, it’s worth the extra effort and time to make sure we’re not unnecessarily exposing people to something that could harm them long term.”