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Fire officers remove toxic canister from island

A TOXIC canister on Facing Island had to be dealt with yesterday by the Gladstone Fire and Rescue Service.

The silver canister with a white lid is the first to wash ashore in Gladstone in eight months, after fire crews were called to several in early 2014 and late 2013.

The canisters first appeared on North Queensland beaches in February 2012.

They contain aluminium phosphide pellets that can generate a highly toxic phosphine gas when exposed to air and moisture.

Gladstone Fire and Rescue Service acting station officer Mark Erridge said the canister had become a routine call-out for his crews.

"It's one of the ones that have been washing up in the past 18-20 months," he said.

"The water police took us over there. We conducted atmospheric monitoring and there were no leaks.

"We sealed it in an over pack and brought it back for the scientific department to dispose of it in a controlled manner."

Acting station officer Erridge said the canister was in good condition.

"About 20 months ago they must have fallen out of a container ship and all of them have been out floating around in the ocean," he said.

"We've had them turn up last year from the top of Northern Queensland to the Gold Coast.

"If someone sees a suspicious canister they should call 000 immediately."

If a person inhales the gas it can cause them to feel sick, ringing in the ears, fatigue, nausea and pressure in the chest.

The Australian Maritime Authority could not identify the marks on the canisters due to the scarring from being at sea.

Where the canisters have been found:

  • February 2012 - First appeared in Northern Queensland
  • December 10, 2012- Lady Elliot Island, Qld
  • January 1, 2013 - Gladstone Marina, Qld
  • January 8 2013 - Mooloolaba Beach Qld
  • January 9, 2013 - Northshore Noosa, Qld
  • April 26 2013 - Waterhouse TAS
  • May 24, 2013 - Stockton Beach, NSW
  • May 25 2013 - Birubi Beach, NSW
  • September 23, 2014 - Double Island, Cairns, Qld
  • January 5, 2015 - Facing Island, Qld

MONDAY 2.40PM: Gladstone Water Police are investigating a suspicious canister that has washed ashore on Facing Island. 

Police believed it was not a bomb but a similar canister to the seven  which washed ashore in January 2013. 

The canisters found then were toxic and contained potentially lethal aluminium phosphide. 

If it is a similar canister Water Police will safely dispose of it. 

Topics:  facing island, gladstone police, toxic canister




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