MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is responding to a mercury spill in New Ulm.

MPCA officials say they believe a homeowner disposed of two gallons of mercury near his home on the 100 block of North Garden Street. About one gallon of that spilled into the trash container, where a local waste hauler noticed it and alerted authorities.

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Authorities say there is no danger to the public, but they ask residents to avoid the area while a cleanup is underway. MPCA officials believe the contamination is limited to the container, alleyway and garbage truck where the mercury was found.

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Mercury appears as a liquid, silver substance at room temperature, but can evaporate quickly. The metal is toxic to the human nervous system, and has to be specially cleaned to avoid vaporizing the substance into the air.

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For more information, visit the MPCA website.