Toxic Chemical Spill Causes Evacuation On Campus

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Updated: 12/15/2011 11:10 pm
     "I saw some police walking through the building and they told us we had to leave," explains John Polascik.

     It's not something you'd expect to see on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University during finals week...police evacuating a building.  Polascik is a graduate student who has an office on the first floor of the Moore Science Building, that's where he was working around noon Thursday,  when he heard something in the hallway.

     "I heard somebody outside talking about a mercury spill.  It was right down the hall actually.  They blocked off one of the corridors where the contamination was and my office is right next door to that so there was people all around so I heard it," comments Polascik.

     The building was closed immediately.

     "We are in the process of moving science equipment from this location to our new science building that some of our science equipment was leaking mercury," comments Marc Whitt, a spokesperson for Eastern Kentucky University.

     EKU also shut down the new science building after mercury was found there too.  Both buildings will be closed at least through the end of the day Friday.  Mercury has been discovered in the trucks that were used to move the science equipment as well.  The Emergency Management Agency and several others are on scene working to decontaminate the areas.

     "Obviously mercury is a very serious chemical and with this, as with any type of situation, we take this very, very serious," says Whitt.

     Because it is finals week, the exams that were held in these two buildings will be moved to other places or postponed.  That means students, like Polascik who is waiting to head home to Pennsylvania, may be stuck on campus a little longer than expected.

     "I just really want to go home and I think I have some stuff in there and I kind of have to wait," explains Polascik.

     If you have an exam scheduled in either of those buildings, call the Academic Affairs Office for more information.

     Because mercury is a toxic chemical and can cause serious health problems, the university is asking anyone who may have come into contact with the mercury in either building, to call campus police at (859) 622-1111.
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