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UPDATE: Hood Jr. High Remains Closed After Exposure To “Mercury”

Hood Junior High will remain closed Thursday and Friday for a haz mat clean up after a mercury scare.
ODESSA, TX (Big 2 News) -- Ector County ISD administrators say Hood Jr. High School will remain closed through Friday for a complete haz mat clean up. Class will be held at New Tech Odessa while the school is closed for the next two days.

Here's the full statement from Allied International Emergency which is conducting the clean up:
“Allied International Emergency arrived onsite Tuesday, March 18th to begin detection and decontamination operations. Following a brief survey of the scene, AIE personnel began air monitoring activities to locate and identify the areas of contamination. Today, Wednesday the 19th, AIE personnel were actively locating and removing contamination through the use of real time air monitoring devices and specialized mercury vacuums. AIE personnel will continue the decontamination efforts in the upcoming days, and anticipate collecting clearance samples throughout the weekend. Clearance samples will be based on the Environmental Protection Agency and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry guidelines for mercury spills in a school.  Normal school functions will resume when all clearance samples meet with these guidelines.”

Odessa, TX (Big 2 News) - "So it would have to been heated and made into an aerosol, so for example this is why they tell you if you break an old style thermometer in your house. Don't use a vacuum cleaner to clean it up because it will turn into an aerosol and you can breathe it in", said Dr. Gregory Shipkey, Medical Director of Medical Center Hospital.

This is good news for students and staff at hood junior high this afternoon.

Parents showed up today wanting answers after they were told by school officials that dozens of people were exposed to mercury.

"A student found or brought in a small bottle of elemental mercury. Which if you remember it's basically what you find in old style thermometers", said Shipkey.

Fortunately it was in liquid form. If the compound heated up, things could have been different.

"It’s horribly absorbed, you can't absorb it through intact skin, you really can't absorb it through the GI tract. The only way you can absorb it is through an inhalational injury", said Shipkey.

People that breathe it in will have instant respiratory problems.

“Shortness of breath, cough, unable to breathe so it's pretty obvious when it happens", said Shipkey.

Officials of the Medical Center Hospital said none of the people treated had the symptoms related to being exposed to mercury.

"It turns out that everyone's fine thankfully elemental mercury is very negligence toxic", said Shipkey.

According to Mike Adkins Public Information Officer for Ector County ISD, John B. Hood Junior High will be closed tomorrow

Allied International is on campus conducting tests and doing air quality tests to be sure everything is completely safe before they allow students and staff back in the building. 

Those test scan not be completed until tomorrow. School will resume on Thursday at the regular time.

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