At 7:07 am on December 14, the Stony Brook Fire Department (SBFD) was alerted about a hazardous material spill at a home on Whitford Road in Stony Brook. Upon arrival of the SBFD, it was reported by the homeowner that he accidentally spilled approximately one quart of mercury on his driveway. A request for the Town of Brookhaven Fire Marshals Hazardous Material Response team was then made. Upon arrival, Chief Fire Marshal Christopher Mehrman assessed the scene and determined in addition to the clean-up of the mercury, precautionary testing within the home was necessary to ensure that mercury was not brought into the house on the resident’s shoes or clothing after the spill occurred.

While dressed in protective clothing and respiratory protection, the Fire Marshals meticulously removed the hundreds of globules of mercury from the driveway employing a specialized multi-filtered mercury vacuum. Utilizing specific testing equipment for mercury vapor, the interior of the home was found to be void of any contamination. At 12:15 pm, mitigation was complete. The mercury was removed from the site and brought to an appropriate facility for disposal.

Mercury is a toxic substance that people can be exposed to by swallowing or touching. However, inhalation of mercury vapor is far more dangerous and can cause ill effects, especially to young children. Mercury is a heavy metal that is in a liquid state at room temperature but will slowly transition to a gaseous state when open to the atmosphere.

The Brookhaven Town Fire Marshals Hazardous Material Response Team provides emergency response and technical assists to the 38 volunteer fire departments within the Town of Brookhaven. The team is recognized by New York State as a Type II Hazardous Materials Response Team. In additional to their other duties, all Fire Marshals are New York State Certified Hazardous Materials Technicians and receive extensive annual training.