Fire crews were dealing with a mercury spill in Vancouver on Monday, the fourth in the city in recent weeks.
Capt. Jonathan Gormick of Vancouver Fire Sevices said crews were called to the 800 block of West Hastings Street around 9:30 a.m. where a large amount of mercury had been spilled across about five metres of sidewalk.
“This is not a single thermometer or a single ball out of a thermostat,” he said.
“I’m not sure what the source is but it would be hard to imagine that this is an accident of any kind and we’ll likely be working with VPD on this file to determine who spilled it here.”
Gormick said about a litre of the toxic metal was spilled and fire crews will likely be working with Vancouver police to figure out who did it.
“This is highly, highly unusual,” he said. “Firstly, because this is not a quantity that would be found in anything a consumer would have access to, generally, and then spilled in such an open and obvious place.”
Hazmat teams have also been called in and Gormick said the area will be blocked off for the better part of the day.
Gormick said there is no risk to the public, but is asking residents to avoid the area.
The spill comes after mercury was discovered at Vancouver’s iconic Stanley Park three times last month.
The first discovery of mercury was made on Sept. 16 near the Stanley Park Pitch & Putt.
On Sept. 27, crews found the metal in a public washroom at Second Beach.
Mercury was found in a bathroom under Stanley Park Brewing Restaurant & Brewpub on Sept. 29.
After the third discovery, acting director of parks Amit Gandha said the mercury was coming from thermostats, but it remained unclear just what or who was behind the leaks.
“So we’re talking about small spillage of mercury coming out of the old-fashioned thermostats,” he said. “Essentially, is somebody going around tampering with some of our thermostats in our park washrooms?”
— With files from Simon Little