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Mercury Spill in Lead, SD

Site Contact:
Megan Schuette
On Scene Coordinator


Site Location:
Lead, SD 57754
NRC#: 1354952

Site Update

Safety Message:  EPA completed work to address mercury in a student’s residence on January 3, 2023. Levels of mercury throughout the Lead-Deadwood High School (High School) have been lowered below EPA and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry guidelines as of December 30, 2023.

EPA is offering to screen additional homes in Lead, SD for elemental mercury, at no cost to property owners. EPA is also offering free mercury disposal while the team is mobilized. To sign up for home screening, ask questions or dispose of mercury, please contact: 605-646-3160. These opportunities will no longer be available after 3pm on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.


Incident Overview:

A Lead-Deadwood School District Nurse contacted City of Lead Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) regarding a student who brought a bottle of mercury to the High School. The student had been playing with the mercury for three days and at least 16 students may have been in contact with the material. Lead VFD requested assistance from Rapid City Fire HazMat (HazMat) who responded to the residence of the student that brought the mercury to school. HazMat reported that an unknown amount of elemental mercury from three bottles had spilled in a bedroom. HazMat identified multiple beads of mercury ranging in size from "pinhead to dime.” The mercury came from the belongings of a relative of the student’s who worked at a mine.


The State of South Dakota requested assistance from EPA on December 13, 2022. On December 15, 2022, EPA's Response Team (Response Team) discovered detectable levels of mercury at the High School. The Response Team also monitored and determined that mercury levels at the student’s residence were hazardous to human health.


The Lead-Deadwood School District Nurse spoke with the parents of the other 16 students and extended EPA’s recommendation that they contact the On-Scene Coordinator and have their homes screened.  EPA has been contacted by twelve (12) property owners for additional screening. Twelve (12) homes have been screened to date. The School was cleared on December 30, 2023.

For additional information, visit the Notices section.