Buchanan open after mercury spill

Published 1:32 pm Thursday, March 8, 2012

Parents wait for their children to be released from Buchanan High School Wednesday after a student spilled a small amount of mercury in a classroom. Students were released one at a time to parents after being checked for contamination and handing over their shoes to authorities. Daily Star file photo

A student who spilled liquid mercury in Buchanan High School Wednesday is at home until an investigation into his actions is complete, according to the school district’s business manager Richard Bell.

“He is at home until further notice, but our primary concern was to take care of the building to get it back open,” Bell said.

The high school was locked down for several hours Wednesday as authorities worked to clean the spill and ensure the safety of students and staff.

Buchanan High School opened on time Thursday, but with three classrooms closed near the spill. Bell said a private contractor, Terra, of Detroit, is in the process of cleaning the rooms and testing them for traces of mercury.

“The testing equipment that they used indicated a high enough reading to be cautious and require cleaning,” Bell said. “They are coming back today to test them to determine what further remediation may be necessary.”

Students were required to place their shoes in bags for testing prior to leaving the school Wednesday. Bell said all shoes are mercury free and being released back to the students today.

No students and staff were contaminated.

Several students said Wednesday that the student who brought the mercury to school had done so before. Bell said he could not speak about that because he does not know enough about it.

Bell is acting as the school district’s superintendent while Andrea van der Laan is on vacation.