By Betsy Scheinbart
A small amount of mercury was spilled near the platforms at Long Island Rail Road station in Jamaica last Thursday and a few people had to be decontaminated, fire officials said.
The spill occurred at about 1:40 p.m. at Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard, said Pat Cleary, a spokesman for the Fire Department. It was not clear where the mercury came from or exactly how much spilled, Cleary said.
LIRR service was not affected and passengers were diverted from the contaminated sidewalk, said Sam Zambuto, a spokesman for the LIRR.
Sutphin Boulevard was blocked off to traffic from Jamaica to Archer avenues as paramedics, fire trucks, Metropolitan Transit Authority police, LIRR officials and a representative from the mayor’s Office of Emergency Management gathered at the scene.
The Police Department’s Hazmat Unit deployed several workers in turquoise rubber suits to investigate and clean the area near the stairways leading to Tracks 6 and 7.
A pile of about 13 boots lay on the sidewalk near the site of the contamination, while a handful of men stood nearby wearing yellow rubber boots.
One man loudly complained that he would have no regular shoes to wear home, but declined to comment on who he was or what had happened to his shoes.
Another man awkwardly walked around with one regular workman’s boot and one yellow rubber boot.
A man wearing a large Perini hard hat said the mercury spill was not related to the construction of the Jamaica Station, a project which Perini is supervising.