Mercury investigation continues

Mercury decontamination continues on Marine Base

Onslow County - Investigation continues aboard MCB Camp Lejeune after a pint and a half (or twelve pounds) of mercury were discovered inside the Hadnot Point Water Treatment Plant.

Shamrock Environmental Corporation was contracted to safely remove the substance. The water plant has been completely drained and small cameras are being used to investigate each pipe. 

Tests are conducted each month on the Marine Base for contamination. All samples have come back negative for mercury since testing began in the mid 1980's. This means there has been no detectable contamination from the mercury.

MCB Camp Lejeune Director of Public Affairs Nat Fahy says since mercury is ten times heavier than water, they will be paying special attention to pipes at the bottom of the facility. He says, fortunately mercury is very non-soluble in water.

"It's highly, highly unlikely that we're going to find any health impacts to the water based on this recent discovery just because of the frequency which we test for mercury," said Fahy.

The source of the mercury is thought to be from a water pressure gauge from the 1980's.  These old gauges were removed in 1985.

"An overflow of water may have caused mercury to release into the system from a gauge," said Fahy.

While the Hadnot Point Water Treatment Plant is down, a second plant on base will be treating most of the water. This second base is newer than the Hadlock Point facility, and Fahy says, never had the mercury-filled water gauges.

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