UPDATE: Hood Junior High To Remain Closed Tuesday

UPDATE: Hood Junior High To Remain Closed Tuesday

Odessa, TX (Big 2 News) - ECISD reports Hood Jr. High will remain closed on Tuesday.

It appears the air quality inside the school is okay and is no longer a concern, though tests have not yet been returned confirming that. The focus of the cleanup is now on the floors in the front of the school where the morning activity and the campus evacuation ground the spilled mercury into tiny beads that, if left as remnants, can accumulate on shoes and other materials and could lead to long-term exposure risks. The next step in the process is to attempt to seal the floor.

We are also hopeful the other wings of the school may be sealed off and re-opened for classes as early as tomorrow. That would allow us to return most of the students and teachers to a more normal schedule – both at JBH and NTO. We hope to hear about this possibility Monday evening.

So far, the cost of the cleanup is about $106,500; that is for work done from Tuesday through Friday last week.

The John B. Hood situation is the first item on the agenda for the school board meeting tomorrow, and representatives from the Environment Protection Agency, Allied International, and Center for Toxicology & Environmental Health are expected to be there to give an update to Trustees.

Odessa, TX (Big 2 News) - "I didn't actually think that they would make this big a deal about it," said Laurie Walker, a parent of a John B. Junior High.

Walker is one of many parents dealing with the fallout after the mercury scare at Hood Junior high on Tuesday morning.

The school has been shut down since, causing the 700 students to have class at New Tech Odessa.

"I thought they would clean it up and go back to school," said Emely Martinez, an Eighth grader at Hood Junior High.

According to Ector County Independent School District officials, the Environmental Protection Agency advised the school to follow specific guidelines in the hazmat clean up, a time consuming process.

"It may have been dripped or tracked or have been spilled. Once they've found it, they gotta clean it up," said Mike Adkins, public information officer for ECISD.

"When we was kids we used to play with mercury so, we thought well, it'll last a day but it's carried on this long and now I'm beginning to worry," said Janet Tyson.

Tyson lives near Hood Junior High and she's concerned about the clean up process.

"They've had all this contamination and stuff and now they're simply, with the big fans, blowing it into our neighborhoods. If it's so dangerous why are they not protecting us?" Tyson said.

"It's not so much the exposure that holding it that presents the threat. It's the possibility that it remains in the school undetected and becomes breathed in over a long period of time," said Adkins.

According to Adkins, that's where the danger lies.

"I don't really know what an ounce of mercury is gonna do to anybody so, I mean, in a way they're taking caring after the kids and you know, making sure that everybody's safe," Walker said.

Other residents expressed concerns about the cost.

"How much is it costing the district? How much money is it costing to get somebody from outside to clean all this stuff?" said Carlos Parra.

Adkins says the district has money saved for moments like this.

"Any emergency that comes up, something we weren't expecting, we have money to be able to pay for it and that's where it'll come from," said Adkins.

Adkins says the district plans to have Hood Junior High open Monday and students we talked to share the same hope.

"Hopefully Monday it goes back to normal," Martinez said.
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