Sunday, 31 May 2009 - 11:37am |
National News

Recovery of chemical tanker is a difficult operation

1 min read

The operation to recover a chemical tanker which crashed on SH1 near Ohakea this morning has hit complications.

The tanker crashed around 6am this morning (Sunday, 31 May) when it appears to have swerved to avoid a pedestrian in the road. Both the pedestrian and tanker driver were killed.

It has been possible to separate the cab of the truck from the tanker and upright it with a crane to remove the body of the deceased driver.

The tanker itself remains on its side in the ditch. It contains 16,200 litres of caustic soda, some of which has leaked into the drainage ditch. Although another tanker will arrive shortly and may be able to pump off some of the chemicals, it will not be able to empty it. A specialist unit is also en route but is coming from the north and with severe weather affecting the Desert Road it is not clear if and when that assistance will arrive.

In the meantime a logging expert is making his way to the scene to fell three trees providing crane access to the crashed tanker.

Sgt Phil Gillbanks said: "We are having to proceed with caution as we don't know whether the current leak is just from the overflow or from a much larger rupture that we can't see. We need to be certain that if we lift the tanker before it is emptied, that we will not be causing any environmental hazard."

Diversions remain in place but traffic is flowing freely causing only a few minutes delay on drivers' journeys.

Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 06 351 2546 or 027 234 8256.