Police Warning for North QLD Clean Up Volunteers

20121025 CanisterUPDATE: Since this article was published, silver canisters have been found in the Torres Strait Islands, at Archer Point near Cooktown, in Cairns, Bingal Bay and Mission Beach as well as the areas listed below. We urge all volunteers to be aware of the information below regardless of your location. These canisters are floating on ocean currents and may be potentially found anywhere around the country. They contain potentially fatal contents - please do not handle or open. If you find a canister that looks like this stand well clear and call the police on 000.

The Queensland Police Service is urging north Queensland beachgoers to avoid handling silver canisters washed up on beaches and to immediately call 000 to report them to authorities. The canisters contain a deadly chemical used to fumigate ships and it's assumed the canisters came from a passing vessel.

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 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."