Spill Shuts Down Ohio County Courthouse
Source of Title - Reprinted with permission
The Morrow County Courthouse in Mt. Gilead, Ohio was
forced to evacuate its employees after mercury was
discovered on the second floor of the building on June
27, 2007. Approximately 100 people then vacated the
building and hazardous response teams were informed of
According to an article in The Mansfield News
Journal, Steve Brenneman, the
county sheriff, received a call from the county's
director of Homeland Security, Joe Edwards,
on Wednesday afternoon informing him that mercury had
been found near the elevator on the courthouse's upper
floor. The mercury had been walked through and tracked
into several halls before it was discovered.
"I was told there was a mercury spill and they had to
tear carpeting up," said Amy Caudill, a
title examiner for VersaTitle of Mansfield, Ohio who
frequently visits the county recorder's office.
"Apparently, someone had a necklace with mercury in it
and it fell and broke. They had to clean it up. We were
told the courthouse would be closed until Monday."
Inquiries from Source of Title were not returned
prior to press time, but a representative of the Morrow
County Commissioners' office did confirm that the
courthouse was closed and that spilled mercury was the
cause. Dixie Shinaberry, the county
recorder, was unavailable for comment as her office and
all offices located at 48 E. High Street were evacuated.
According to various news outlets, officials from the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency responded to the
site and were present later that evening to determine
the effects of the spill. Source of Title will continue
to follow this story and provide additional information
as it becomes available.
A simple search on the Internet uncovered information
on mercury necklaces and their growth in popularity
among students in schools around the country. The
growing trend in wearing them has led to numerous
mercury spills in schools throughout the U.S. The
necklaces are often a beaded chain, cord, or leather
strand with a glass pendant that contains mercury. The
mercury appears as a silvery clump of liquid that rolls
around in the hollow glass pendant.
The necklaces are easy to break and once the mercury
spills it can easily roll into cracks in floors, walls,
or get trapped in carpet. If spilled in or around
heating ducts, mercury can quickly vaporize and possibly
spread throughout the building or home.
According to the EPA, trace amounts of liquid mercury
can vaporize and reach levels that may be harmful to
one's health. At high levels, mercury vapors may cause
effects such as respiratory difficulties and prolonged
exposure can also lead to damage of the central nervous
system. The severity of harm depends on the level of
mercury to which a person is exposed and for how long
they are exposed to it.
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