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Probe into toxic substance taken from UM lab continues - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

UPDATE

Probe into toxic substance taken from UM lab continues

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MISSOULA - Missoula authorities are investigating the theft of a toxic substance possibly stolen from a University of Montana lab.

UM Police Department Assistant Chief Ben Gladwin told MTN News that details from an internal theft investigation on campus lead authorities to get information out to the public about the potential dangers of this substance.

After the hazardous chemical, potassium cyanide, was potentially discarded within the community, investigators pinpointed one area of concern south of the Osprey Stadium. However, UM said they “cannot completely rule out the possibility that this vial could be on campus or in the vicinity.”

UMPD said in a press release that the material is a white powder occupying less than half of a clear glass vial with a white lid. Gladwin said, “any vial that could fit in a pocket” should be reported and taken seriously.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contact with potassium cyanide can result in lightheadedness, vomiting, suffocation, confusion and death.

As for questions involving the internal theft investigation on campus that brought these details to light, Gladwin was unable to comment as this is an ongoing case.

However, Gladwin told MTN News, “as far as any other substances missing… there are not any other substances that would be accessible or dangerous to members of the public.”

Gladwin added investigators are following up on any leads and interviewing people close to the case. Anyone who believes they have found the substance is being advised not to handle it and to call 9-1-1 immediately.

Missoula PD and UM Police are handling the investigation, and say they will release more information when it becomes available.


(first report)

MISSOULA - The Missoula Police Department and the University of Montana Police are investigating a report that a small amount of potassium cyanide, a highly-toxic substance, was removed from a University of Montana research laboratory. 

They say that the material is a white powder occupying less than half of a clear glass vial with a white lid. They believe the vial was possibly discarded somewhere within the area of Orange to Hickory streets and Craig Lane to South 6th Street West. 

Both Missoula PD and UM Police say officers have searched the area but have not recovered the vial, adding it is uncertain that the vial was discarded. They said that they want to alert residents and those who may be in the area as a precaution.

Anyone who believes they have found the substance is being advised not to handle it and to call 9-1-1 immediately. 


Below is a letter that was sent out to students, faculty and staff at the University of Montana regarding the incident:

To our Campus Community Members,

You may have seen the alert issued jointly by Missoula and UM Police Departments concerning the possibility that a vial of toxic chemical (potassium cyanide) may have been removed from a UM research laboratory and disposed of improperly. Here’s the language used in yesterday’s announcement:

“The Missoula Police Department and the University of Montana Police Department are investigating the report of a small amount of a toxic substance (potassium cyanide) removed from a university research laboratory.

The material is a white powder, occupying less than half the volume of a clear glass vial with a white lid. It was possibly discarded in the area somewhere within the confines of Orange Street to Hickory and Cregg Lane to S. 6th Street W.

At this time it is not certain if the vial was discarded, but if it was, it could be in this area. Officers have checked the area but did not locate the vial.

As a precaution, law enforcement wants to alert residents and those who may be in the area. If located, contact 911 immediately and do not handle it.

This is an ongoing joint investigation by the Missoula and UM Police Departments, additional information will be shared as it becomes available.”

I wanted to share this information with you because – though law enforcement has identified the area where they believe the material could potentially be –we cannot completely rule out the possibility that this vial could be on campus or in the vicinity. Please note the description from the announcement and, if you see something like this, alert UMPD.

Sincerely,

Paula Short, Director of Communications

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