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Toxic spill on roads investigated
The toxic chemical spill in Maddington. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

The foreign company involved in a toxic chemical leak in which thousands of litres of a dangerous herbicide was spilled on Perth streets could be in breach of Australian safety standards.

Two shipping containers brought 480 20-litre drums of the herbicide paraquat from Vietnam to Fremantle, which were being transported by two trucks to Maddington and Kewdale on Tuesday night when the drums started to leak.

A Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokesman said 100 drums leaked from the Maddington-bound truck but it was not until the truck arrived at its destination, just before 6pm, that the leak was noticed at the bottom of the pallets.

Another 20 drums leaked on the Kewdale-bound truck but did not spill onto the ground, he said.

Authorities spent the night cleaning the mess and backtracked along the distribution route to clean up additional spills.

The DFES spokesman said one car travelling behind the truck had to be impounded and decontaminated.

He said there would be an investigation and the company could be in breach of Australian safety standards.

Paraquat is often used by farmers to control weeds, but is so toxic it is not supplied for domestic use.

It is absorbed through the skin and can kill if ingested.