Toxic Canisters Wash Up on NSW Beaches

SLSNSW and Fire and Rescue NSW are urging people to avoid handling silver canisters if they wash up along the NSW coast following recent storms.

A mysterious silver gas canister washed up on a Batemans Bay beach this week, containing highly toxic aluminium phosphide which can be deadly on contact with air or moisture.

The canisters are believed to have fallen off a freight ship before floating on to east coast beaches this week.

NSW Police said several canisters had already been located along beaches on the state's south coast while others have been spotted on Queensland beaches.

Aluminium phosphide is classified as a hazardous substance and is registered for use as a pesticide in Australia.

It is widely used for fumigating grain and for rabbit control. On exposure to air or moisture, aluminium phosphide reacts to generate phosphine gas, which can be extremely dangerous when inhaled. WorkCover NSW said a person who comes into contact with the gas could be severely poisoned or die from exposure to the gas.

If a canister is located:

  • Avoid all physical contact
  • Establish an exclusion zone around the canister
  • Contact 000-Fire immediately
  • Do not try to inspect, open or transport it and ensure you stand well away

Thu 7 Feb 2013