Image: photo apparently showing the mercury-leaking manometer in an outside open tub, where it was left for months following the spill; there also appears to be a thermometer in the tub. Details below.
The subject line on Paul Stokes’ email alert to the upper ranks of City management—“Past mercury concern”—didn’t quite capture the volatility of the situation, a volatility that seems to have quickly become clear to the City Manager.
Editor's note: This week's "Ask ELi" connects to our ongoing series, The Mercurial Trail, which traces what happened during and after about 1 to 1.5 pounds of mercury were spilled at the East Lansing Wastewater Treatment Plant in November 2013. This column addresses a question we've been getting in response to the series.
The question asked of ELi this week is: Could 1.5 pounds of mercury hurt a person?
Image: Layout of the East Lansing Wastewater Treatment Plant, courtesy of City of East Lansing
Even if you don’t know where the East Lansing Wastewater Treatment Plant is by sight, you may know its location by smell. If you’re turning off of southbound 127 onto Trowbridge Road and it’s a warm day, you can often smell the sewage just as you round the curve. The formal address of the plant is 1700 Trowbridge Road.
Photo/Image: p. Gordon on Flickr, showing elemental mercury spilled from an old thermostat switch
Last week, thanks to a tip from an ELi reader, Ann Nichols and I broke the story of a lawsuit against the City of East Lansing by a group of workers from the Wastewater Treatment Plant. According to their legal complaint, the workers are suing because they “were intentionally and unnecessarily exposed to mercury and asbestos.”