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Mercury spill in Sage Hill School science class leads to hazmat cleanup

Mercury spill in Sage Hill School science class leads to hazmat cleanup
A hazardous-materials team prepares to enter a science classroom where mercury spilled Monday at Sage Hill School in Newport Coast. (Courtesy of Newport Beach Fire Department)

A science class mishap turned into a hazardous-materials incident at Sage Hill School on Monday, prompting a response from several agencies after mercury spilled during class, school and fire officials said.

The Newport Beach Fire Department responded to the private Newport Coast high school at 9:40 a.m., assisted by the Orange County Fire Authority, Huntington Beach Fire Department and Orange County Health Care Agency.

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The spill occurred toward the end of a class period, Sage Hill spokeswoman Kelly Parker said. School officials evacuated the classroom and immediately called for assistance, she said.

“Mercury is an absorption and inhalation hazard,” said Newport Beach Fire Department spokesman Kevin Tiscareno. “That’s why the precautions of evacuation, denying entry and contacting a hazardous-materials team to properly collect and dispose of the mercury” were necessary, he said.

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Tiscareno said about a palm-size amount of the substance spilled and scattered across about a 10-square-foot area.

The cause of the spill wasn’t clear. No injuries were reported.

The building will remain closed until it is deemed safe, Parker said, though authorities expect the science facilities will be back in use Tuesday.

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