EPA called to Elko property after discovery of dangerous chemicals
ELKO, Nevada – A search warrant execution leads police and SWAT to find several different types of hazardous chemicals inside a residential shed in Elko, Nev.
Elko police were called to 461 Victoria Ave., to execute a search warrant for an unknown reason Friday, May 4, Lt. Mike Palhegyi said. Palhegyi said he could not disclose the reason for the initial search because the warrant is currently sealed, he said.
During that search, Elko police officers and SWAT discovered a number of chemicals in containers inside a 10 by 20 detached shed located outside the residence, Lt. Palhegyi said.
“Because there were several chemicals, we couldn’t handle them ourselves, so we had to call in the professionals to help,” Lt. Palhegyi said.
Military and civilian support teams from Idaho and Utah, along with agents from the Region 9 Environmental Protections Agency, based out of San Francisco, were called in to properly dispose of the chemicals.
“Sodium hydroxide, sulphuric acid, potassium permanganate, and jars, like baby food jars half full of liquid elemental mercury,” were found in small amounts, Maggie Waldon, supervisor with the EPA, said.
The discovery of the chemicals, compounds and solvents prompted police to issue a voluntary evacuation to nearby residents Friday, Elko Fire Department Chief Matt Griego said.
“Police went door to door suggesting people leave, but they were back in their homes by the evening,” Griego said.
“It was like a scene from a movie,” said Anahi Silva, who lives down the street. “I live so close what if something happened.”
On Tuesday evening, agents with the EPA were still on scene testing the property for dangerous mercury.
“The levels were very high,” Walson said.
EPA agents were forced to destroy the shed where the chemicals were found due to the contamination from the liquid mercury fumes, Waldon said.
The investigation is ongoing, but criminal charges are currently being screened at the Elko County attorney’s office.
“Having mercury isn’t a crime, but we want to know why he (the resident) had all of those chemicals in one place,” Lt. Palhegyi said.
As of Tuesday evening, police have not made any arrests.
KSL will continue to follow the details of this story and bring you updates as we receive them.
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