Chemist charged with taking cyanide, dumping in storm drain

Richard O'Rourke (Montgomery County District Attorney's Office)

WARRINGTON, Pa. (AP) – Prosecutors say a chemist stole potassium cyanide from his workplace to use as pest control at home and poured it down a suburban Philadelphia storm drain when he learned there was an investigation.

Sixty-year-old Richard O’Rourke has been charged with risking a catastrophe. He’s accused of taking about a cup of the substance from the Merck & Co. facility in Montgomery County in December.

A co-worker witnessed the action and informed authorities. Police say he later dumped the chemical near his Warrington home about 50 miles (80.46 kilometers) north of Philadelphia.

The state Department of Environmental Protection began monitoring the water supply after determining there was a real threat to drinking water. Water departments were on “high alert” for two weeks.

No evidence of a toxic impact was found.

O’Rourke says he doesn’t want to comment.

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