Toxic canisters: The story so far

(Supplied: Fire and Rescue NSW)

One of the toxic canisters previously found (Fire and Rescue NSW)

Toxic canisters, like the one that locked down Mona Vale in Sydney’s North yesterday, have been finding their way onto beaches along the east coast of Australia since as early as February 2012.

The silver canisters have been located as far north as Ayr, Queensland and are now floating onto the shores of the Northern Beaches in New South Wales.

The canister that was handed into Mona Vale Fire Station was the third found in the Sydney area with one previously stored in a garage in the neighbouring suburb of Warriewood. Beachgoers were also forced out of the water last week when another of these canisters washed ashore at Elouera Beach near Cronulla.

The canisters, that are around 20cm high and 10cm wide, contain aluminium phosphide that is commonly found in rat poison. If inhaled, the effects may be fatal.

It is believed that the canisters have fallen off a freight ship.

Police are urging anyone who finds a canister to call 000.