MERCURY SPILL UPDATE 12/18/19:
Law enforcement continues to monitor a lab on Brittmore Dr related to this week’s mercury spill and cleanup. The lab’s owners have retained a clean-up company to conduct remediation once law enforcement releases the site.
The Houston Health Department continues to work with the affected business to ensure proper remediation takes place and each location is safe for the public before reopening.
The City of Houston Office of Emergency Management provided initial oversight of the event and later transitioned to the Houston Police Department for further criminal investigation. The TCEQ is serving in a support role to local responders and receiving daily updates.
Commercial laboratory waste, including mercury, falls under the jurisdiction of the TCEQ. GeoChem had not provided the TCEQ with notification of waste generation as required by rule. The TCEQ will continue to offer support to the local jurisdictions, as needed. For information about the status of this investigation, please contact the City of Houston.
FBI MERCURY SPILL UPDATE 12/17:
Multiple health and public safety entities continue to address questions and concerns regarding Sunday’s mercury spills. The FBI’s criminal investigation, including sequence of events, is ongoing with the assistance of the Houston Police Department’s Environmental Crimes Unit.
The FBI’s investigation is limited to determining whether or not spills were an act of criminal intent. At this time, no additional information regarding the investigation will be released.
The FBI investigation is limited to determining whether or not spills were an act of criminal intent. At this time, no additional information regarding the investigation will be released.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT UPDATE 12/17:
Six people at Bucky’s (not Buc-ee’s) were found to have trace levels of mercury near their shoes and decontaminated at the scene as a precaution.
This occurred the evening of Monday, Dec. 16. as part of the response to the new location (Bucky’s) (see info below).
There have NOT been any new mercury scenes discovered today, Tuesday.
HOUSTON – Additional testing has detected mercury inside the Walmart located at 10750 Westview Drive. The chemical was previously found outside the Walmart and two nearby businesses, a Sonic Drive-In and Shell convenience store, on Dec. 15.
New information indicates the spill could have occurred as early as Dec. 13.
The compound was found near the restrooms and the McDonald’s inside the Walmart. The concentration in the McDonald’s is higher than the other areas of Walmart.
A possible contamination is also being investigated at a convenience store named Bucky’s (not Buc-ee’s) located at 1212 West Sam Houston Parkway.
The Houston Health Department encourages people who visited the Walmart, Sonic, Shell or Bucky’s on December 13, 14 or 15 to monitor for symptoms over the next few days and go to their family doctor if necessary. Pregnant women who visited these locations should be especially mindful as a fetus is more sensitive to mercury than an adult.
Symptoms of acute mercury exposure can include headaches, eye and throat irritation, coughing and nausea.
“Even with mercury detected inside the Walmart, the threat to the general public remains minimal,” said Dr. David Persse, local health authority for the Houston Health Department. “With mercury, the biggest concern is long-term exposure, which is not the case in this situation.”
People who were at the locations and are concerned about their shoes can place them outdoors to help potential mercury evaporate, wash the shoes twice in a washing machine or simply throw them away.
On Sunday, the Houston Fire Department Hazardous Materials Response Team responded to the scene and monitored the area for mercury contamination. Approximately 60 people were found to have trace amount of mercury contamination near their feet. Although the level of chemical detected on those exposed was below the level that’s dangerous to the average individual, each was decontaminated at the scene as a precaution.
One pregnant woman was transported to a hospital as a precaution and 12 people were evaluated on the scene and released.
All affected businesses remain closed as cleanup continues.
The criminal investigation is being handled by the FBI Houston Division.