MRDC evacuated after mercury spill


On Wednesday, April 21, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Atlanta and Tech emergency services responded to a reported mercury spill in the Manufacturing and Related Disciplines Complex.

Six fire trucks, two police cars and four emergency response vehicles were on the scene soon after the incident.

“I was sitting and studying on the first floor, and police officers started coming and looking around, and then firefighters came in and put on their respirators and told us all to leave, because there was a hazardous gas leak,” said Seth McKay, fourth-year ME student.

Police officers told Channel 2 news that five ounces of mercury was spilled. David Lai, an ME graduate student, was next door to lab room number 3321 on the third floor when the spill occurred. Lai said that two TAs were in the room at the time of the spill.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury; however, brief exposure to mercury vapor may only cause minor symptoms like headache and nausea. Prolonged exposure, however, can manifest itself in profound neurological symptoms or death.

The MRDC houses the offices and labs of administrators, faculty and graduate students of the School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Polymer, Textile and Fiber Engineering, as well as provide mechanical engineering classroom and lab space.