October 19th 2012
Beware of canisters on our beaches
The Queensland Police Service is urging north Queensland beachgoers to avoid handling silver canisters washed up on beaches and to immediately call Triple Zero (000) to report them to authorities.
Cairns District Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Cary Coolican said scientific examination of four canisters found along a 200 kilometre stretch of coastline from Ayr to Ingham, since February this year, revealed the product inside was Aluminium Phosphide, which could be fatal if inhaled or ingested.
“This is a highly restricted toxic substance and indeed a very dangerous poison. For safety’s sake, if you come across one of these canisters, report it immediately. Do not try to inspect, open or transport it and ensure you stand well away from it.”
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Scientific Officers have warned, when in contact with air or moisture, the chemical generates a highly toxic phosphine gas, which under the right conditions may could self ignite.
“Even in the hands of experts, this chemical is highly dangerous and presents significant health risks, so it’s vital members of the community heed our warning,” Sgt Coolican said.
“Parents and guardians should adequately supervise children and pets too. They can be very curious and may think the canisters are toys and want to play with them. That curiosity, mixed with such a dangerous chemical could tragically prove fatal.”