When 1-800-GOT-JUNK? arrived Monday morning at a residential property on Seaboard Crescent in Central Saanich they assumed it would be a simple matter of picking up some of the detritus that most homes tend to accumulate and eventually purge as the years go by.
This call, however, was destined to be different.
The two workers had been tasked with removing a collection of junk from an outbuilding; material that had ostensibly been left behind by a previous owner, but in amongst old VCR tapes and assorted rubbish was a bag containing a coffee can which, when handled by the crew came open and released a white powder.
The reaction was an immediate eye irritation and difficulty in breathing and, recognizing that they had been exposed to something unusual, the workers contacted emergency services. The police and fire department responded as did the the BC Hazmat Management Ltd. (a private contractor specializing in hazardous material cleanup).
The first order of business involved caring for the two workers who needed to remove clothing and, after a decontamination process, donned coveralls provided by the responders. They were transported to hospital where they were treated and released.
By that time, the material had been removed and tested and found to a compound called chlorobenzalmalonitile, a component of CS gas, or tear gas.
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