The National Response Center (NRC) received a report on July 23 regarding a spill of approximately 1 liter of elemental mercury in a private citizen's vehicle.
The spill originally occurred on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 21st while the citizen was recycling three mercury filled barometers at a recycling center in Eureka, MO. Facility personnel were removing the barometers and accidentally hit one of them on the roof of the car and released mercury in the passenger’s side back seat.
The private citizen reported that facility personnel utilized a shop vac and leaf blower to respond to the spilled material. The total potential of the release was reported as 1 liter for all of the barometers being recycled, however the actual amount spilled is estimated to be less than one pound based on how much mercury was in the barometers and the circumstances of the release. Almost all mercury released was recovered by the recycling facility, however, micro-beads remained throughout the vehicle.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) responded July 23 and did an initial screening of the house, car, and clothing items. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) personnel arrived at the private residence July 24 and conducted additional screenings of the house. No significant readings were observed. The clothing which was worn by the family when the incident occurred, or had the possibility for cross contamination from the vehicle, was also screened. The only clothing items with elevated readings belong to the 12 year old daughter and mother. These items were bagged and will be disposed of by the family.
The family vehicle where the incident occurred was screened and results showed elevated readings. The recycling facility was assessed on July 25 and there were no significant readings at the incident location, the interior of the facility, or the path that was taken by responding personnel with the broken barometers.
Currently all decontamination efforts are focused on the family vehicle. The vehicle is scheduled to be screened on 7/31 by EPA OSCs.