MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A concerned citizen who saw an online ad for mercury helped authorities locate 64 pounds of the potentially toxic chemical, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Authorities said a person in Floodwood, Minn., which is west of Duluth, posted an online ad on Craigslist selling 64 pounds of mercury for $650. A concerned citizen who saw the advertisement contacted the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, who called the MPCA.

Officials said the person who was trying to sell the mercury had found it after going through his late grandfather’s garage. Authorities with the MPCA decided to buy the mercury rather than try a compliance investigation on the seller that would’ve taken a far longer time.

Authorities said the seller inherited the mercury from his grandfather, along with unused mining equipment as his grandfather had intended to get into gold mining. It is not illegal to own mercury in Minnesota, but the sale and purchase of it is regulated.

Officials said the mercury was in four sealed plastic bottles and in its original packaging. Mercury can be toxic to a human’s kidneys and central nervous system.

Officials with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency say that much mercury could potentially be devastating to the environment and to the long-term health of people who come into contact with it.

“We have emergency response teams going to schools if a thermometer breaks,” said Jeff Connell, enforcement manager for the MPCA. “Those are thousands of dollars’ worth of costs for what is an extremely minute amount of mercury compared to this find.”

The man was selling the mercury for $650 online, and the MPCA was able to negotiate a price of $300 to make the purchase.

The man attempting to sell the mercury will not face any charges since it’s not illegal to own mercury.


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