ELWOOD, Ind. (WISH) - There's a mercury mystery in Elwood. When a new homeowner started cleaning out his garage, he was shocked to find 10 pounds of the toxic substance spill out of a cabinet. The question everyone is asking now: how did it get there?
Josh Clabaugh has spent most of his days recently digging through someone else's belongings, eager to make room for his own family's.
"It's sat vacant for 20 years so you can expect anything," said Clabaugh.
Antiques maybe? But when Clabaugh moved a piece of furniture in his garage Monday night mercury, and a lot of it, came pouring out.
"It must have fell out of the cabinet we moved and it spilled," said Clabaugh. "Probably like a grey maybe a thick paint, it's heavy, it's cold."
Twenty-nine ounces of it, weighing 10 pounds spilled on the floor. Just a small amount of mercury exposure is dangerous, 10 pounds could be deadly.
Josh called 911 immediately. The call quickly made its way to the EPA.
"We've actually done some air monitoring in the garage, through a broken window. The levels are so high that we have to wear respiratory protection to enter," said Shelly Lam with the EPA.
Just as quickly as the Clabaugh's garage was taped off, word spread through the streets of Elwood.
"I couldn't believe it. Honestly, I couldn't believe mercury was in there man," said neighbor Ray Brooks Sr.
Brooks knew the former owner collected just about everything, but mercury?
"What would he have mercury for is what I was thinking."
"Why would somebody want so much, on one hand, and where did it come from?" said Clabaugh.
That's exactly what the Elwood Police are now looking into; the mercury mystery.
Josh Clabaugh doesn't really care if it's ever solved.
"As long as it's taken care of the proper way, that's all that matters."
Mercury is a neuro toxin and is most dangerous to children. Luckily, in this case, it was contained to the Clabaugh's garage.
It will now take a couple days for Hazmat to clean up the spill and transport the mercury to a hazardous waste landfill.
Authorities say Josh did the right thing. If you ever find any amount of mercury, call 911.
An 83-year-old woman was killed in a house fire in Owen County Tuesday night.
A multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 65 shut down lanes Wednesday morning.
The Boone County Sheriff's Office asked that drivers use caution Wednesday morning as black ice was reported on some bridges in the county.