Services tackle two mercury spills in 24 hours

Liquid mercury or
Liquid mercury or "quicksilver". Picture: Getty Images

EMERGENCY services attended two mercury spills within 24 hours in Perth, including one significant enough for a hazardous materials warning to be issued.

Department of Fire and Emergency services were called to a report of hazardous materials at a property on Kitchener Road in Melville at 5.59pm yesterday.

A spokesperson said the cause of the incident was a mercury spill on the concrete floor inside a residential shed.

DFES issued a Hazardous Materials warning for Melville at 7.33pm last night and said the spill was contained by about 8am today.

“People in the area no longer need to remain inside as a precautionary measure,” the warning says.

There was a total of 12 appliances at the spill, including Fire and Rescue services from Fremantle, Murdoch, Claremont and Osborne Park.

St John Ambulance was at the scene but did not take anyone to hospital over the incident.

DFES attended two mercury spills in 24 hours. Picture: Stock

A ChemCentre spokesperson said the spill, while significant, was largely contained within the outdoor shed.

“Any mercury vapour was treated and managed by ChemCentre Emergency Response staff, allowing DFES personnel to remove the contamination to be treated offsite,” she said.

DFES was alerted to another possible mercury spill at Clinipath Pathology on Benara Road in Noranda at about 12.30pm today.

The ChemCentre spokesperson said there was a small amount of mercury believed to be spilled when a piece of old equipment was being moved at a pathology lab.

“Ingestions of mercury metal or its vapour is toxic, organic mercury compounds are extremely toxic and they can be adsorbed through the skin,” she said.

“Due to its potential toxicity and adverse health effects the uses of mercury are limited.

“Most instances of mercury spills that ChemCentre has responded to in recent times relate to old and obsolete equipment that has been stored for some time.”

The symptoms of mercury contamination vary, depending on the source and length of exposure and how you have been exposed, including skin contact and inhalation.

If you suspect you have been exposed to mercury you are advised to speak to your doctor or call the Poison Information Centre at 131126.