A Marin County toxic materials crew was dispatched to Novato on Friday to remove 40 gallons of cyanide and other chemicals a real estate agent removed from a home for sale, a fire official said.

Novato fire Capt. Alex Bowlds said the broker was showing a Novato home that was in a probate sale because its owner had died. The deceased homeowner was apparently an inventor who used chemicals, and the broker found the stash of cyanide, formaldehyde and other toxic compounds in liquid and powdered form, Bowlds said.

The broker removed the chemicals and brought them to her husband's auto body shop in Bel Marin Keys, thinking the business could dispose of them. The shop realized it could not handle the chemicals and called police. Police looked at the chemicals and called the fire department at about 1:30 p.m.

The fire department summoned the county's hazardous materials team in to removed the potential lethal assembly of chemicals, a process that took five hours. Emergency officials notified hospitals that the chemicals were being moved in case there was an accident.

The chemicals were taken to a Novato fire station for storage overnight, and the hazardous materials specialists planned to destroy them Saturday. No leaks or injuries occurred during the incident.

"This stuff never should have been removed from the residence," Bowlds said.

Contact Gary Klien via email at gklien@marinij.com

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