Museum still assessing quake damage

The Canada Science and Technology Museum is still assessing damage from last summer’s earthquake that forced the closure of the iconic lighthouse on St. Laurent Blvd.

The lighthouse remains closed nearly five months after the magnitude 5.0 quake after mercury spilled from the bearing for the rotating light.

“Less than a litre of mercury was actually spilled on the floor. And much of it was collected right after the spill and put back into the container,” said Yves St-Onge, the museum’s vice-president for public affairs and marketing.

St-Onge said officials doing a routine inspection discovered the spill two hours after the ground shook on June 23.

“We’ve corrected the spill and basically decontaminated the site,” St-Onge said, adding most of the museum wasn’t affected.

The entire cleanup cost $7,000 and took a couple of weeks.

But the lighthouse remains closed.

“Most of the mercury that has filtered into the structure actually evaporated and it’s still in the process of final evaporation,” he said.

St-Onge said the museum is building a protective mechanism for the lighthouse.

“Should there be another earthquake, any mercury will actually fall into that container,” he said.

St-Onge said they’re examining the 40-year-old museum’s main buildings — which don’t meet the current standards — to make sure there’s no further damage in the event of another earthquake.

“There is none of our collection that is at risk right now … In the future we need to be very careful and we need to examine other options for establishing the museums in different building, different place,” he said.

The lighthouse will reopen next summer.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

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