Mercury Contamination Cleanup
When a large parcel distribution center has a mercury spill, the result is a shutdown of production and an extreme loss of revenue. Timely response, quick thinking, and reliable equipment become essential in safely and accurately addressing the situation.
American Compliance Technologies, Inc. (A•C•T) responded to just such an event. An unknown parcel had released mercury across one of the sorting bins and was unknowingly sent down the line to be processed. By the time A•C•T arrived, the client’s representatives had no idea where the offending package was or if it was still on site. With the premises shut down and the clock ticking, it was now up to A•C•T to get the job done.
The most pressing issue to deal with was the observable mercury on the ground and the belt conveyor. While members of A•C•T started on the recovery of the exposed material, the A•C•T Industrial Hygienist utilized the Lumex Mercury Vapor Analyzer (MVA) and began systematically testing the facilities belt conveyors downstream of where the mercury was observed. Over two miles of belt and equipment were tested quickly and accurately, which allowed a large portion of the distribution center to reopen and productivity restored after only minutes of A•C•T’s arrival.
The vapor “trail” led the Lumex MVA and A•C•T’s Industrial Hygienist to a large loading dock of approximately twenty fully loaded trailers. The client assumed that all vehicles needed to be unloaded and each parcel closely examined, which would be a time consuming endeavor. But the A•C•T Industrial Hygienist, with the Lumex at his disposal, was able to not only locate the trailer with the offending parcel in it, but also locate the parcel itself in the midst of hundreds of packages. The package was opened and it was immediately confirmed that this was “the one,” as there was damaged medical equipment that contained the mercury.
The box and its contents were carefully placed in a drum for proper mercury reclamation, all observable mercury spread across the facility was recovered, and mercury vapor concentrations were confirmed to below the target cleanup level. This was all performed in an efficient and timely manner, which saved the facility untold time, productivity, and revenue.
Nickels and Diesel
When American Compliance Technologies, Inc. (A•C•T) responded to an accident on I-95 in Brevard County, Florida, they didn’t know what to expect. Normally, accidents involving tractor-trailers on Florida highways spill hazardous materials, diesel fuel, motor oil and other engine fluids, not $187,000 worth of Nickels.
Our responders arrived on scene at 7:45 a.m. All southbound lanes of I-95 were shut down and it was confirmed the semi carrying Nickels lost approximately 200 gallons of diesel into the median from both of its onboard gas tanks. A second semi involved in the accident had crossed the southbound lanes coming to rest on the east shoulder of I-95 and had leaked an additional 100 gallons of diesel fuel.
Although the diesel fuel was of concern, a greater concern was how to clean up more than 3.4 million Nickels strewn about the interstate in an area more than two hundred feet long and thirty feet wide. Brooms, leaf-blowers, and even picking up individual coins by hand helped clear the travel lanes of Nickels. A light layer of diesel fuel coated the southbound lanes, in which responders used absorbent material to soak up the fuel and give traction to the highway so the lanes could be reopened to traffic.
To recover piles and piles of Nickels in the median, responders used bucket loaders and smaller Bobcat tractors to literally scoop up Nickels and dump the contents into roll-off containers. Orlando news media, Florida Highway Patrol, and the Secret Service closely monitored the area as responders picked up as many Nickels as possible using heavy equipment, flat head shovels, and their bare hands to fill five gallon buckets that were dumped into the roll-off containers. The roll-off containers were secured overnight in Cocoa, Florida, before being transported to Miami for sifting and separating the Nickels from the soil.