Mail delivery across much of East Texas, including Wood County, was disrupted Thursday after mercury from a mailed package spilled out at a U.S. Postal Service processing center in Coppell, causing a suspension in operations there, according to USPS spokesman Albert Ruiz in Dallas.
The Postal Service has temporarily suspended operations at the North Texas facility, and mail was being rerouted to other postal facilities in and around Dallas and Fort Worth. Service disruptions could affect hundreds of post offices in East Texas for days to come, according to published reports.
“Mail processing and delivery operations are continuing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and postal management has implemented contingency plans to ensure the efficient and timely handling of all mail and packages,” Ruiz said in a prepared statement. He told The Monitor on Friday that he did not know when normal mail delivery would resume.
After the spill, which occurred Tuesday, the Postal Service implemented established emergency preparedness procedures, which includes working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to Ruiz. The spill was contained and no injuries to employees were reported.
“We have a dedicated workforce which is focused on keeping the mail moving and serving our customers. All mail is safe and is kept secured throughout the handling process, so customers expecting mail or packages can be assured their items will be delivered as soon as possible,” Ruiz said.
Exposure to metallic mercury mainly causes health effects when inhaled as a vapor where it can be absorbed through the lungs, according to the EPA. Symptoms of prolonged and/or acute exposures include tremors, mood swings, insomnia or neuromuscular, brain function or nerve response changes.