Possibly as early as June 11, 2019, a group of children found a vial of mercury in a shed. The mercury vial was opened and spilled on a gravel road the remaining mercury was taken to the home of four of the children. On June 15, 2019 two of the children with mercury in their home were taken to the emergency room and treated for a viral infection and released because the parent was not aware of the mercury exposure. On June 21, 2019 the four children were treated for mercury exposure and another child that was exposed (lives elsewhere) was evaluated. All of the children were released from the hospital and are receiving medication from Oregon Health Science University. Beads of mercury were found in two bedrooms at the residence where the four symptomatic children live. The total volume of mercury is unknown; estimates range from two tablespoons to a teaspoon however the beads located to date represent much less than a teaspoon.
Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office notified the EPA Region 10 Duty Officer at 14:28 on June 21, 2019. Oregon Regional HazMat Team #3 was deployed to from Gresham, OR. Although the team does not have mercury vapor detection equipment they are trained to recognize visible mercury and have the ability to conduct minor containment. HazMat 3 interviewed the people involved. The only location where visible mercury was found was on carpeted floors of two different bedrooms (the bedrooms of the four children that were symptomatic). The residents (four children one adult) have temporarily vacated the house and are staying in a motel. Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are coordinating with EPA to ensure that the impacted family are receiving support while they are relocated.
EPA Region 10 deployed OSC Sibley with START and ERRS contractors. Resources are expected to arrive on scene the afternoon of June 22, 2019.