Mercury present at middle school prior to lockdown - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Mercury present at middle school prior to lockdown

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Parents wait outside Walter Johnson Junior High School in Las Vegas amid a hazmat investigation on Sept. 7, 2016. (Source: FOX5) Parents wait outside Walter Johnson Junior High School in Las Vegas amid a hazmat investigation on Sept. 7, 2016. (Source: FOX5)

Frustration and anger boiled over Thursday night.

The Clark County School District and emergency responders addressed Wednesday’s handling of a hazmat incident at Walter Johnson Junior High School, and many parents who waited 12 hours or more to be reunited with their children gave the district a failing grade.

[READ: Parents frustrated as hazmat incident stretches to hours-long ordeal]

Several parents told FOX5 they were left in the dark about what was going on after mercury was discovered scattered around the school.

Students were quarantined, the school was locked down and the EPA was called in. The last student wasn’t released until about 5 a.m. Thursday morning.

Each student had to be screened thoroughly, some of them more than once. Thursday morning, a CCSD spokeswoman, the school police chief and an EPA representative said things went reasonably well and according to protocol.

Parents challenged that assessment during an open house Thursday night.

“You wouldn’t release the levels to parents, so how do we know that they were safe?” a parent asked.  

The Clark County Fire Department referred to the situation as the largest containment incident in department history, and parents had plenty of questions and concerns.

“What about my house? I have two little kids who don’t go to school. What if they got contaminated,” parent Tania Babajan asked.

Tania and Viro Babajan’s son was among nine people contaminated. They said he played with mercury he found under school bleachers on Tuesday, a day before the lockdown.

“He got a headache and diarrhea. It’s been three days. I need my house checked out,” Viro Babajan said.  

The couple came to the open house looking for answers.

“You don’t know who to talk to. You don’t know what’s the law, where to go. Who do I ask?” Tania Babajan said.

At Thursday’s meeting, there was indication the mercury was present at the school last Friday. CCSD officials have confirmed the mercury was present on campus at least a day before the lockdown. 

“I mean, what are their cleanup duties? How come nobody saw this?” a parent asked.

“I want to find out how much it was. What staff were told about it? Are they in trouble for their actions? Obviously this happened Friday, but none of us found out until yesterday,” parent Candice Jimenez said.  

EPA spokesman Randy Nattis said safety was always the chief concern.

“We have to figure out what’s important. We have to prioritize our things. Human health is priority. When it happened and how it happened is kinda low on my radar. It’s not even on my radar. It’s not my job,” he said.

Any parent who believes his or her child was exposed prior to the lockdown was urged to place potentially contaminated clothing in a plastic bag and bring it to Johnson Junior High School Friday for testing.  

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