Flaming tanker sparks fresh row
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• The recent spate of accidents in the north east involving lorries carrying hazardous loads (CMNovember 1) continued last week when a tanker carrying 23,000 litres of highly inflammable toluene overturned and caught fire.
Luckily both the driver of the tanker and the occupants of three cars involved in the accident escaped with slight injuries, but the incident led to severe delays as a 131on stretch of the A19, near Brookfield, was closed for eight hours.
Thousands of people living in the surrounding area were told to close doors and windows and to stay inside, as thick clouds of soot and smoke rose 100 metres into the air.
After three hours residents were given the all-clear by the emergency forces, who were satisfied that the fumes were non-hazardous. It was another five hours, however, before the fire was finally doused.
After the incident, Nick Holt, the deputy chief fire officer for Cleveland, claimed, "There has been a massive over-reaction. It was a big fire, but there was no toxic danger." Holt claims the emergency procedure was invoked unnecessarily. A spokesman for Cleveland Police disagreed. "We have all the safety aspects to deal with," he said, "Holt can only say the cloud was non-toxic after he has had the smoke analysed." He said, however, that the strength of the tanker helped to minimise the effects of the fire. Despite overturning, only two small punctures were made in the eight-yearold stainless steel five-compartment tanker.
• A new booklet, entitled the 'Operators Guide to The Road Traffic (Carriage of Dangerous Substances in Packages, etc) Regulations 1986', is now available from Hazchem Signs (telephone 01-952 8248).