Hazardous chemical found in Enon home prompts evacuation, cleanup

This Enon home has been tested and treated for mercury after a resident found it while cleaning up.

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This Enon home has been tested and treated for mercury after a resident found it while cleaning up.

Residents of an Enon house were removed from their home after mercury was found inside.

The incident happened Thursday while the residents were cleaning out the garage.

The female resident was sweeping, said James Justice with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and she saw silvery liquid on the floor.

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She called 9-1-1, and the local fire department came to her home.

They later called the Clark County Combined Health District, which then called the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency went to the homes and took readings, and it discovered high mercury levels.

The U.S. EPA was then called in to help assist with the clean-up efforts.

“It’s a liquid, it’s a metal that actually flows around like water, and that’s what makes it particularly problematic to clean up,” Justice said.

Gregory Mize lives just a few doors down from the home.

He knew something was wrong when he saw a lot of activity at the home.

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“I first heard about it when I saw the trucks, when they started pulling in, and I saw the EPA shirts,” Mize said.

He saw trucks, tents, people in HAZ-MAT suits and a dumpster brought to the residence.

Mercury is a liquid the EPA representative said can be harmful.

“The primary route of exposure for mercury is vapors. When you start getting into normal temperatures, 60 and 70 degrees … inhalation of those vapors can be harmful if exposed to high concentrations over long periods of time,” Justice said. “When it hits ground, it breaks up into beads and just spreads everywhere. It gets down into cracks absorbs into porous surfaces.”

The EPA is still testing and trying to determine what items can be saved and what should be disposed of.

“Will confirm that by air samples in the home. Once those air samples come back … we will allow the residents to move back in.” Justice said.

There is no risk to surrounding homes, Justice said, which is good news to Mize.

There’s no timeline for that, he said. It could take days or weeks before the EPA allows the displaced residents back into the home.

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