After more than two years of investigation, Michigan authorities say they intend
to bring the state's antiterrorism law to bear against a Detroit high school
maintenance worker suspected of spilling 3 pounds of mercury around the school
in a fit of anger over an overtime dispute.
Court papers filed in connection with the October 2001 incident say the 52-year-old
man had been having trouble with coworkers that day and threatened to close
down the school if his union issues about overtime were not addressed, according
to the Detroit Free Press.
That afternoon, students and teachers in the science wing discovered silvery
beads on the hallway floor. The spill was noticed after a change of classes,
so students had unknowingly walked through the substance and tracked it around
the building. Everyone in the building-1,300 students and 100 faculty-had
to be quarantined until their shoes were checked for mercury exposure. Cleaning
up the school required shutting it down for a week.
Asked why it took Detroit police, the FBI, and the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency so long to file charges, a spokesman for state Attorney General Mike
Cox said: "It took time to put together a case that would stick."
Detroit Free Press