Ocean Shores, WA - From spring 2008 through fall 2009, about 65 empty aluminum canisters were either spotted or picked up along the Washington coastline, causing concern among local residents. Some canisters still contained residual amounts of aluminum phosphide, a potent insecticide that becomes a toxic gas when exposed to air.
Information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates the canisters likely came from cargo ships exporting bulk grain to Pacific Rim nations. These ships load grain at terminals on the Columbia River as well as Grays Harbor, Puget Sound and British Columbia.
The Washington departments of Agriculture and Ecology (Ecology) are working closely with fumigation companies, the grain export and shipping industry, shipping agents and port officials to keep these unwelcome 10-inch metal canisters off Washington beaches.