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Ken Muldrew

"Police determined that HAZMAT response was not needed for cleanup after the explosion"

Maybe it was an older school and they realized that if the HAZMAT team was allowed in then the school would be closed indefinitely for a monstrously expensive cleanup. How many of us recall juggling beads of mercury before accidentally dropping them and watching the silver liquid disappear beneath cracks in the floor tiles? Not to mention all the other delights of a chemistry lab from the days when chemistry was still an experimental science.


Ken -- Yes, that is so right. Thanks for the laugh this afternoon. (I took all the chemistry in high school that I could because lab work was fun.)

El Jefe


So very familiar. I remember mercury soccer (under the wilting asbestos in a late-Fifties-built high school) during the late Eighties.

And while, of course, the Jittered Age first reaction was out of proportion (or, as Ken rightly suggests, not enough for the real problems) there are times it would fit. During the mid-Nineties, the Austin Fire Department issued UT's chemistry department an ultimatum: either clean up its oldest lab, which was in a Gilded Age building on an internal (private) university drive, or they'd stop responding to the repeated hazardous fires there and just let the sucker burn. Make all the Texas jokes one wants to (at least ninety percent of them short-sell the truth) but UT has cutting edge and tidy science facilities, except that old stinker of a lab. The line in the H2SO4 worked. The whole thing was moved into a new building faster than the Physical Plant workers could spit.

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