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In Flight
Forced Smiles
Happy Oblivion
Ducking Destiny
Chance of Showers
Chance Encounters
The Thinking Dog
The Race
Flight of the Ostrich
Monster Under My Bed
The Rose Garden
Window Shopping
Dramatic Romances
Musings on Nature
A Day at School
The Holy Light
A Rainy Night


The Roller Coaster
The Purse
Sammy's Lesson
The Legend of the Hungry Dragon
Spirits in the Night


My Philosophy of Life
Five Scholarship Questions
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois
Prophets for God
My Service Project (1999-2000)
My Service Project (1997-1998)
The Beauty of the Forest
Reaching Beyond

The Pastry Menace
A College Just for You!
The Rights of Plants

Literary Analyses
Saving Harry:  Clearing the Controversy Over Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Essays on Wuthering Heights
The Creature in Frankenstein and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Edna's Decision in The Awakening
Character Comparison in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
Why The Chosen?

Research Papers
Race, Norms, and the Sidewalk
Analytical Exercise
The Validity of Comparing Governments
The British System: Legal-Rational Or Traditional?
The Importance of Framing
Madison on Factions
Spirituality and the Brain
Sea Water and Conductivity

Clinic Violence: A "Moral" Way to Bring About Change?
Graduation Speech
The Call to Relationship
Mark Twain Speaks Again (original version)
Mark Twain Speaks Again (shortened version)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Year 2000
Hunting for Sport?

Mercury Spill Exercise
Chocolate Feature Exercise
Character Sketch
Reaction Story
Aspiring Actress Profile
"Shark Attack" Exercise
Villa Maria Academy Hosts Diversity Panel

Coastal Vacation


Mercury Spill Exercise

An Arlington Heights couple was indicted on three counts by a grand jury Thursday for allegedly planting mercury in their home on the 200 block of Thomas Avenue and then attributing it to leaking Nicor Gas Co. regulators, police said.

William Fritz and Alanna Weber-Fritz will be arraigned on charges of theft, attempted theft and conspiracy on Feb. 14, prosecutor Brian Crowe said.

Fritz and Weber-Fritz both passed a lie detector test administered by their attorney, Tilden Katz, saying they did not contaminate their own home. They were unavailable for comment.

Packer Engineering, a company hired by Nicor to investigate the mercury spill in the Fritzes' home, released a report on Feb. 1, 2002, that said the mercury could not have come from the home's gas regulators.

The meters in the home were not mercury-filled, Packer Engineering said. In addition, a company representative said beads of mercury were placed in several different places around the home, which was unlikely in a gas meter spill.

"We don't know where the mercury came from, but it was not from Nicor equipment," Nicor spokesperson Craig Whyte said.

On Sept. 22, 2001, the Fritzes appeared on television to talk about the mercury spill in their home. The report showed the couple's four children crying as they packed their stuffed animals for decontamination.

Nicor spent several thousand dollars helping the Fritz family. The family and their six pets were all evacuated from the home while it was decontaminated over a period of three weeks. The family was put up in a hotel during the decontamination, and the pets were housed in a kennel. In addition, Nicor provided the Fritzes with a rental van, food and clothing.

Three weeks after the story aired, Nicor hired Packer Engineering to investigate the case. After Packer Engineering released its report, Nicor turned the case over to the Arlington Heights police and the Cook County state's attorney.

Many people have condemned Nicor for not replacing old mercury-filled gas meters soon enough. In the summer of 2001, hundreds of Chicago-area homes were contaminated by mercury spills.

Copyright © 2002 Colleen Fischer | Last updated October 7, 2002