Approximately 2400 students, staff, and faculty were dismissed from Reed High School in Sparks on Monday.
A mercury spill is the culprit.
The school's prinicpal says a student unscrewed the bottom of a barmoeter in a science classroom. The mercury dropped to the floor and was recovered by another student who used a tube from a refillable pencil to contain it. The contents ultimatley landed at the front entrance to the school.
Mary Vesco,Reed High School Principa says: " students found a vile right inside the school door. And looked at and when he moved it saw a metal ball moving in it and thought this looks like mercury and immediately took it to the school police office."
School authorities notified fire crews...and the effort to contain the contamination was on.
Students could not exit the front door where the mercury was discovered.
Instead they were sent to the gymnasium for an announcement.
Students would need to go home.
But it wouldn't be a half day for fire, police, or environmental health services. Crews like Paul Donald from County health and Richard Meier of state OSHA used monitors to detect contamination. Meantime about nine students suspected of coming in contact with the mercury were in another part of the building being de-contaminated.
Sparks fire says about an ounce in weight of mercury was spilled in total. A small amount, but environmental health experts don't take chances with mercury especially if it is not contained.
That's because it is odorless and the vapors mercury releases especially over time can cause brain and kidney damage. While health officials say this spill is a concern its not a major health threat. Officials hope to have classes resume on schedule day after tomorrow