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Mercury spill empties Eden Prairie school

A mercury spill was discovered Thursday, forcing an Eden Prairie charter school to be evacuated, reported the Star Tribune.

A combined total of 290 students and staff members evacuated Eagle Ridge Academy on Thursday morning after approximately two teaspoons of spilled mercury were found in a storage area, the Star Tribune said.

Although no one was seriously harmed, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sent workers to examine students and faculty members after the evacuation. Affected areas of the school were sealed off by the Hopkins Fire Department, according to Eden Prairie spokeswoman Joyce Lorenz.

Classes were canceled for the remainder of Thursday after the evacuation, and the school remained closed on Friday for cleanup.

"When not contained in a thermometer or air-tight container, mercury can accumulate in tiny spaces and emit vapors. If inhaled, it can cause neurological and kidney damage," the Star Tribune reported.

Officials said they do not know who spilled the mercury.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty passed a law that prohibits mercury in all public and private K-12 schools this year, which requires the schools to stop buying mercury by the end of the year and to discard all mercury and related instruments containing the toxin by 2009. This law does not, however, apply to thermostats, the Star Tribune said.