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Deadly chemical lost in transit

Questions have been asked after a package containing a highly toxic chemical was lost during delivery to the Northern Ireland Forensic Science laboratory.

The parcel containing 2.5 litres of methanol, a substance which can cause permanent blindness or death, fell out of a van during transit to the lab at Seapark in Carrickfergus on Tuesday.

A PSNI spokeswoman said the police searches of the delivery route had proved unsuccessful. However an unopened bottle of methanol was handed in to police just before 8pm last night.

Methanol is extremely dangerous to humans. If ingested, just 10ml of methanol can cause permanent blindness by destruction of the optic nerve, and 30ml is potentially fatal.

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott, who sits on the Stormont Justice Committee, said serious questions must be asked as to how the commercial delivery company lost the package. “I would want to know exactly what steps are being taken to recover it, and secondly to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.

“There will need to be a review of procedures of deliveries,” he said.

Criticism has also been levelled at the PSNI who waited more than 24 hours before notifying the public about the missing parcel.

In a statement, the PSNI said: “Searches are being carried out to locate the parcel and inquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances of the incident.”

The Department of Justice has launched a full investigation.

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