Cleanup costs expected to mount

Broken pressure gauge leads to mercury removal bill that may top $35,000
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

A pressure gauge that broke recently at the village wastewater treatment plant has proved to be an expensive cleanup job.

The gauge contained three pounds of mercury and cost $5,000 to clean up initially. Finishing the job, which includes residue from a previous unrecorded spill, may cost an additional $30,000 or more.

The spill was discovered during a routine check in February. Besides the spill, two companies told the village they found mercury in a windowsill and in acoustic tile, which may have come from a spill in the past that was never completely cleaned.

The Village Board voted last week to award a cleanup contract to North Shore Environmental Services for up to $30,000 plus disposal and transportation costs.

“This is unbelievable,” Village President Don Dohrwardt said at the village Utilities Committee meeting last week. “They really have us over a barrel.”

In addition, the wastewater treatment plant has three more gauges just like the one that broke, plus other switches and equipment that contain mercury. Removing them will come at an additional cost.

“If we have any mercury anywhere in the village, we should get rid of it,” Dohrwardt said.

Mercury is a heavy metal that is liquid at room temperature. It is used in thermometers, barometers, float valves, switches, relays, fluorescent lamps and other devices, although concerns about its toxicity have led to many of the devices being phased out in favor of alternatives.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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