Police urge caution after 10 drums of 'potentially fatal' chemicals stolen

The stolen chemicals were in vacuum-sealed packs like these, house in blue drums.
The stolen chemicals were in vacuum-sealed packs like these, house in blue drums.

Police are warning the public after potentially dangerous chemicals were stolen from a chemical company in Billingham over the weekend.

Between 5pm on Friday and 7.30am on Monday someone forced entry to the site perimeter and internal building, stealing 10 sealed blue drums (approximately 60 kilos) of powder containing metal oxides.

One of the drums contained 30ml sealed vials filled with black powder and the rest contained individual 2kg vacuum-sealed foil pouches containing the same black powder.

The containers were clearly labelled with the hazards and the company’s internal batch codes.

A spokesman for Cleveland Police said: "When correctly stored in sealed pouches or vials and within drums, as it was stored at the company’s site, there is no risk of exposure.

"However, chemicals experts say that the powder itself is harmful if a person is exposed to it by skin contact, inhalation or ingestion.

"If a person is exposed to significant quantities, it is potentially fatal."

If members of the public see the drums, vials or pouches, they are urged not to touch them, but to inform Cleveland Police immediately via the 101 number, quoting Event 23810.

Should anyone come into contact with the powder, they should wash their skin immediately with plenty of water, seek medical attention and call Cleveland Police.