At around 7.20am on Monday 22 June 2020, Lancashire Police were called to reports that a Ford Transit van (ND59 VBE), containing hazardous materials, had been stolen from the Darwen area of Lancashire.
At around 11.45am on Wednesday 1 July 2020, the van was found on Leconfield Drive, Blackley. During a search of the van by firefighters, wearing specialist equipment, it was discovered that the hazardous materials – namely Talunex – had been removed. This finding led Greater Manchester Police to declare a major incident.
An investigation is continuing and police are furthering their appeal for information.
No causalities have been reported. Health services and partner agencies across Greater Manchester have been briefed and remain on alert.
No arrests have been made.
Superintendent Rebecca Boyce, of GMP’s City of Manchester district, said: “The removal of these hazardous materials from the van is incredibly concerning and that’s reflected by our decision to declare this a major incident. Our rationale for declaring a major incident is that, if handled or stored incorrectly, Talunex poses a very real risk to public health. Additionally, our investigation and any recovery of Talunex requires multi agency specialists.
“Our priority is locating and safely recovering the Talunex. I would like to use this opportunity to appeal directly to the person/ people who removed it from the van to contact the police or Crimestoppers, anonymously. I must stress that Talunex should not be touched, sniffed, eaten or allowed to come in to contact with water. If this has happened or happens, please seek medical assistance immediately. Under no circumstances should Talunex be disposed of in general waste or flushed down a toilet or plughole.
“I would also like to reassure members of the public that a major investigation, utilising dedicated police teams and specialists from relevant partner agencies, is underway to find and safely recover the Talunex. However, we ask members of the public to be alert and dial 999 immediately if they have seen or do see anything which may be the Talunex. Do not, under any circumstances, touch, sniff, eat or allow it to come in to contact with water.”
Talunex is an Aluminium Phosphide-based chemical which is used to control vermin. Talunex is very toxic if swallowed and emits a very toxic gas upon contact with water and acids. Talunex should only be handled by specially trained operators. It is in tablet form and the capsules are light grey, garden pea-sized spheres with a seam around the centre. The tablets were last known to be stored in a grey aluminium box.
Dr Matt Pegorie, from PHE North West, said: “We urge members of the public who think they have come into contact with the capsules and are experiencing ill effects to seek urgent medical attention. Possible symptoms include nausea, vomiting, chest pain, stomach pain, and difficulty in breathing.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 999 quoting log 943 of 01/07/20 or the independent charity – Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.