Sunday, 31 May 2009 - 6:37pm |
National News

Chemical tanker recovered following double fatal

1 min read

A chemical tanker involved in a double fatal road crash this morning has now been recovered and SH1 is expected to re-open shortly after 7pm.

SH1 at Ohakea has been closed to traffic since 6am this morning when the tanker travelling northbound appears to have swerved to avoid a pedestrian and then rolled into a drainage ditch.

The pedestrian, a 21-year-old man from Feilding (not 22 as previously stated) died at the scene, as did the 48-year-old driver of the tanker, a man from Lower Hutt.

The recovery operation has been very complex with the use of three cranes and the fire service. A number of trees lying between the crashed tanker and a field had to be felled to provide clear access to the vehicle.

The tanker was carrying 16,200 litres of caustic soda. Approximately 12,000 litres leaked from the tanker into the drainage ditch and the edge of the field. The remaining chemical was pumped from the crashed vehicle to another tanker. The drainage ditch is now being pumped out and then citric acid and sand will being laid over the area to neutralise the caustic soda. After this the road can be re-opened.

Next week the area contaminated by the caustic soda will need to be dug out.

Police want to thank motorists travelling through the area today for their patience. A diversion was put in place which only added about five minutes to journeys and traffic flowed freely throughout the day.

Next of kin for both men have been notified and police expect to be able to name the men tomorrow morning (Monday, 1 June). A police investigation is underway to establish why the 21-year-old man was walking along SH1 and whether he is linked in any way to a car found crashed in a ditch in nearby Wilson Road.

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