Chemical Spill Forces Lafayette Parish School to Close Tuesday, Will Re-Open Wednesday
YOUNGSVILLE, La. (KPEL News) - A chemical spill in a classroom at Southside High School led to an emergency response and closure of the school on Monday.
The Lafayette Parish School System announced Monday afternoon that Southside would be closed on Tuesday to "properly clean the contaminated area."
According to the district's statement, a student brought a vial of mercury, a toxic chemical element, to the school. It dropped and spilled on the floor of a classroom, leading to a hazmat situation at the school.
The Department of Environmental Quality and other hazmat service providers were called to the school, and they did confirm that the spill had been properly contained.
The school will be closed on Tuesday to ensure that the school environment is properly cleaned and safe for students to return. The campus is expected to re-open on Wednesday, April 19.
What Is Mercury?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency website:
Mercury is a naturally-occurring chemical element found in rock in the earth's crust, including in deposits of coal. On the periodic table, it has the symbol "Hg" and its atomic number is 80. It exists in several forms:
- Elemental (metallic) mercury
- Inorganic mercury compounds
- Methylmercury and other organic compounds
However, exposure to high levels of mercury can lead to damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system of those exposed.
Full LPSS Statement
Due to a spill of the chemical element mercury onto the floor of a classroom at Southside High School, the school campus will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, April 18, to properly clean the contaminated area. This closure is necessary as a result of a student bringing a vial of the chemical element mercury to school that was dropped and spilled onto the floor of a classroom. Southside High School immediately enacted crisis response protocols and requested assistance from the Department of Environmental Quality and other hazmat service providers who confirmed that the spill had been properly contained and that the air quality throughout the campus was not affected. School will reopen on Wednesday, April 19, 2023.