Highway blocked after chemical leak

By JURIS GRANEY

TRAFFIC following a truck leaking pesticide helped disperse about 2000 litres of the substance along the Pacific Highway, 45km south of Grafton yesterday.

The spill at Dirty Creek Range forced the evacuation of a nearby house and an exclusion zone, 700 metres in both directions of the spill, was established shortly after 1pm.

The highway was reopened by 3.30pm but it did not stop many disgruntled drivers heading south taking out their anger on Roads and Traffic Authority staff who had established a perimeter a further 1.5km from the containment line.

Police believe that a small leak developed in the cargo of the yetto-be-named pesticide, releasing the substance onto the road, which was carried further afield by traffic.

Hazardous materials crews and NSW Fire Brigade teams from Woolgoolga and Coffs Harbour, including the Zone Inspector, evacuated a house, 200 metres downwind from the accident site for precautionary measures.

Five tonnes of sand was used to absorb the pesticide which was then carted away for disposal.

The Daily Examiner trekked to the containment line on the northern side of the accident and even from that distance the pungent odour could be smelt.

NSW Fire Brigades Inspector Gordon Boath said one person was affected by the toxic substance, believed to be the truck driver, and was being treated at the scene by ambulance officers.

A NSW Environmental Protection Authority spokeswoman said they were not 'on the ground' at the accident, but there was no report of environmental impact.



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