tear gas
BC Hazmat Management responded to a home in Central Saanich Monday after a local junk removal company encountered tear gas. (BC HAZMAT/Facebook)

When 1-800-GOT-JUNK? arrived in Central Saanich Monday morning it seemed another routine pickup.

Couches, refrigerators, boxes of junk and old mattresses often make up the bulk of the team’s work, but yesterday, they got junk that was a little bit different and dangerous: chlorobenzyl malononitrile, a component of tear gas.

Coffee Can With White Powder

The squad was removing a collection of junk from a residential property on Seaboard Crescent. In among the rubbish, however, was a coffee can containing white powder.

It opened, and upon contact, the two workers experienced difficulty breathing and instant eye irritation.

They took no chances and immediately contacted emergency services with the police, fire department, and hazardous material specialists, BC Hazmat Management Ltd. responded to the call.

Released From Hospital After Treatment

After removing clothing and undergoing a decontamination process, the two were transported to hospital where they were treated and released.

By that point, the material had been removed and tested. It was found to contain the chlorobenzalmalononitrile compound, a component of CS gas, or tear gas.

Since the material had been abandoned years ago by an unidentified owner and the current owner had no understanding of what was in the coffee can, no charges were laid and no further action is planned by the police.

The operations manger for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? said the situation is unfortunate, but not altogether surprising.