Two buildings remained closed Thursday night and will be off-limits most of Friday after a chemical spill at Eastern Kentucky University.
A mercury spill was discovered Thursday afternoon at the Moore Science Building and the new science building. Both will be closed Friday, and it's having a big impact on students trying to finish up their final exams.
At a time when many students are looking ahead to their winter break, school officials were trying to make sure they were cleared from any possible contamination. "They simply cannot ignore this," EKU's Marc Whitt said outside the Moore Building where response teams assembled, "This is a serious situation."
Emergency crews from multiple agencies helped to contain the spill after workers discovered a mercury leak on the first level of the Moore Science Building. That spread from an elevator to a loading dock where the leaking equipment was placed on a moving truck on its way to the new science building set to open next year. "They're checking out the floors. They're checking out the air, so any aspect of the environmental health of this building is being assessed at this point," Whitt said.
The bigger concern was for any students who may have had final exams in the Moore Building earlier in the day or others like Jennifer Kame who was helping box up computers for the chemistry department and had already left before the leak was discovered. "I went to my room and my dorm-mate kind of let me know and told me that I should probably come out here and get checked since I was in there all day," Kame said, "especially since I was on the elevator in the hallways that it was found in."
On the way back Kame feared the worst. "I really was worried that I might have gotten some on my shoes or might have been infected somehow or something."
Fortunately for her, the news was good. "They just checked the amount of mercury that would be found on there, and if it's below a certain point, then you can keep your stuff," Kame said, "Just set it out in the sun for a few days. Mine had even less than that on it, so I don't even need to do that."
The Moore Building will remain closed throughout the night, and at least into the morning.
So far school officials have had no reports of illness from the leak. Any students who believe they may have been exposed should call EKU Police for instructions. Final exams scheduled in the Moore Building for Friday will be moved. students can call academic affairs for those changes.