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Mercury Spill At Brookdale Community College Closes Chemistry Wing

Brookdale Community College closed the college's chemistry wing after a mercury spill.

Brookdale Community College’s chemistry wing is expected to reopen later today after a wall barometer holding 5 pounds of mercury broke in the hallway between two chemistry learning assistant’s offices.

Chemistry classrooms and learning assitants' offices were evacuated after the spill.  

A chemistry learning assistant reported at 9:53 a.m. that a thermometer in the hallway between offices had broken and that there was mercury on the ground. The thermometer had allegedly broken overnight, said Brookdale Community College spokeswoman Avis McMillon.

Brookdale police responded to the call within minutes, arriving to the corridor by 9:56 a.m., McMilon said. No one was injured during the incident.

Mercury is a heavy liquid that scatters on a surface and looks for areas of depression, meaning it could seep into cracks and into the ground, explained Bud Luithle, a chemistry lab technician. 

Mercury vapors can cause damage to the nervous system, Luithle said.

Middletown Fire Department Chief Andy Spears said the department used a mercury vacuum to remove the mercury and that tiles were lifted to remove mercury.

Middletown Township Police, Middletown Fire Department, Brookdale Police, Monmouth County Hazmat, Middletown Hazmat and the Monmouth County Office of Emergency Management responded. 

Tom July 28, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Brookdale must be a little behind the times, do they not have a laboratory safety officer (environmental health and safety)? Most college laboratories have discarded any equipment that contains mercury. EPA will likely be paying a visit, and possibly levying fines.
NOYB YDUYUAX September 23, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Well DUH!! Liquid mercury isn't toxic, you could actually drink it!! Only mercury vapor, or organomercury compounds, e.g. methyl mercury as found in low concentrations in chunk light tuna, have the potential to be toxic. So, once again the sorry state of science education in the U.S. has cost the taxpayer thousands.

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