Clark County school officials now admit the mercury may have been sitting at Walter Johnson Junior High School longer than they first reported.
A student tells 13 Action News he first came in contact with the mercury on Tuesday. The school, however, did not act until Wednesday.
Gagik Babajan was so amazed by the strange silvery liquid, skittering around the gym floor he had to find out what it was. “I saw it on the ground. I thought it was a rock, and I tried to touch it, and it just swooped away,” Babajan said.
Babajan’s pencil fell under the bleachers. When he bent down to look for it, he couldn’t believe what he saw. “There was all this mercury under there, like hundreds and hundreds of droplets,” Babajan said.
Babajan is one of at least a dozen kids exposed to mercury. Touching, inhaling or swallowing even small amounts can lead to brain, lung, and kidney damage.
“A lot of people touched it,” Babajan said. “I was sitting with 15 kids who touched it.”
Clark County schools locked down the school on Wednesday. Superintendent Pat Skorowsky
Admits the district does not have a clear timeline of when the mercury first appeared in the school.
“We’re still trying to determine the date.
It was prior to Wednesday,” Skorkowsky says. “It is concerning. But you’ll have to remember we’re working with a lot of unknowns. As we go forward, we’re trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle trying to figure out how it came about.”
Babajan says he’s concerned he may have inadvertently tracked the substance back home to his family.
“The same shoes I used on Tuesday, I walked around in my house, so I spread it all my house, the carpet, and we’re worried that it’s in our house right now,” Babajan said.
The US Environmental Protection Agency says they've cleared all the classrooms and seven school buses. They’ll be back at the school Saturday and Sunday and hope to re-open the school on Monday.