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Hazmat crews called to home after mercury spill

Safety became a big priority after Theresa Frater realized the small silver balls in her home on Shelby Street, near East Loudon, were not toys left out by her children.

"This morning I saw some little silver balls on the floor, and I told the kids to pick the balls up and sweep the balls up. I didn't know what they were," recalled Frater.

After school, Frater found more of the tiny beads laying in the floor, then she saw the silver sphere split when one of her children picked it up.

"If you try to get mercury up the more you mess with it, the more it spreads," described Frater, adding, "I remember mercury in school, in science, and I knew that had more trouble."

Instantly, Frater's mind went to an older model blood pressure cuff that contained the hazardous material.

"It's all over the living room. There are little balls all over the place. Big balls, little balls. When you push them together they form a liquid and the liquid moves through the house on its own. It's scary," said Frater.

Even though the Lexington Fire Department says the mercury was only spilled out to the size of a quarter, they say it's enough to cause serious exposure and forced the crews into their HAZMAT suits and oxygen tanks.

"You can't just run the vacuum cleaner and you're good to go because this stuff splatters everywhere and gets in every kind of crevice. So it's got to be professionally cleaned by a licensed company that is licensed to deal with mercury," stated Battalion Chief Jeff Nantz, of the Lexington Fire Department.

The family now worries about the future.

"They're probably going to be out of this home for a long time," said Nantz.

"Everything that was in the room where the mercury was, we'll lose all of that stuff," added Frater.

Six people, including Frater's two kids, plus the family's dog all had to be decontaminated. Frater's mother, who firefighters say is bedridden, had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. As for Frater, she stayed home the entire day and was told she had the greatest exposure level. She was looked after and only complained of some difficulty breathing.

Still, everyone is just happy to be safely out of the house.

The Lexington Fire Department also made a sweep over the William Wells Brown Elementary School for any signs of contamination that the children may have carried this morning, but reported there were no indications of the mercury.


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