EPA: Keizer mercury spill no longer a health risk

"We're very concerned with mercury... It's certainly a toxic substance"

The EPA continued cleaning up a mercury spill at a Keizer apartment complex, August 15, 2016. (KOIN)

KEIZER, Ore. (KOIN) — Cleanup efforts continued at a Keizer apartment complex Monday, days after a mercury spill was discovered on the property.

Environmental Protection Agency officials said they’re confident most of the toxic substance is cleaned up, though they were also concerned about some that went into a storm drain. But they also tell KOIN-6 the amount the found in the drain is isolated in that one area, should be easy to remove, and that the public works department will be able to determine how best to move forward with the drain.

Shar and Jeff Hante live at the Wyatt Lee Apartments where the mercury was found. The EPA figured out the spill happened a couple weeks ago, which gave residents like the Hantes a lengthy window for potential exposure to the heavy metal.

The EPA continued cleaning up a mercury spill at a Keizer apartment complex, August 15, 2016. (KOIN)
The EPA continued cleaning up a mercury spill at a Keizer apartment complex, August 15, 2016. (KOIN)

“We’re not sure if people thought it was metal shavings or glitter or what, but someone who was going by noticed it, had some knowledge and called 911,” Richard Franklin with the EPA told KOIN 6 News.

The EPA tested several apartments but didn’t find any levels of mercury above the health risk standard. But Shar said she hasn’t been herself lately; she told KOIN 6 News she was feeling nauseous and lethargic. Her husband called in sick Monday and they say their dog has been throwing up also.

Crews worked diligently to clean up more than 5 ounces of mercury that investigators said was spilled by a resident in a garage. The case falls under the EPA’s Superfund Cleanup Law, which normally requires the polluter to foot the bill.

The accident is expected to cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“We’re very concerned with mercury,” he said. “It’s certainly a toxic substance.”

The EPA expects to continue its cleanup efforts onsite through tuesday.

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