BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Packages of dangerous chemical tablets have been reported stolen from Bunge Milling in Danville.
The Danville police issued a press release Thursday morning confirming the theft of tablet packets of Phostoxin chemicals from the facility at 321 E. North St.
Danville Director of Public Safety Larry Thomason indicated in the release that city police were called to the plant on Wednesday by company officials who reported the theft. Printed police reports collected Thursday morning, however, indicated the theft took place on Sept. 28.
According to Thomason, a pesticide handler reported he was missing five packs of Phostoxin chemicals. The chemicals are used as a pesticide to treat railroad cars.
“The chemical is a controlled substance and can only be used by licensed persons,” Thomason said in the press release. “The chemical, in the wrong hands, can be deadly as it is toxic. When exposed to water or moist air, it will release toxic, corrosive or flammable gasses.”
Jeff Cotton of Bunge Milling in Danville was cited as the complainant on Danville police reports. When contacted Thursday, he declined to comment on the theft, directing all questions to Bunge North America offices in the St. Louis area.
Bunge North America spokeswoman Deb Siedel issued a press release for the company late Thursday morning indicating the tablets were clearly marked as hazardous and stored in a locked shed in the Bunge facility.
Siedel said the company would issue no other information regarding the situation. She did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment on the time elapsed between the discovery of the theft and when police were contacted about the problem.
“Bunge followed the appropriate procedures for notifying authorities about the theft,” the sole company statement indicated. “We are reviewing our processes and procedures for any additional appropriate actions.”
Thomason said in an e-mail that the company was made aware of the loss immediately by the licensed handler and the company conducted an internal audit to ensure the property was not misplaced before notifying police.
Thomason could not comment further on the theft.
According to applicator information from the federal Environmental Protection Agency website, Phostoxin — which consists of aluminum phosphide — is highly toxic to humans and other animal life as well as the insects and pests it is intended to control.
At high moisture and temperature levels, the tablets — once opened — can create hazardous gas for up to three days. In lower humidity and cooler conditions, however, that gas production can last as long as five days.
Symptoms of exposure to Phostoxin include headache, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing, vomiting and diarrhea.