A14 closed by chemical tanker crash

A TANKER carrying potentially hazardous chemicals collided with the A14's central reservation yesterday - creating traffic misery for motorists as the road was closed in both directions.

By John Howard

A TANKER carrying potentially hazardous chemicals collided with the A14's central reservation yesterday - creating traffic misery for motorists as the road was closed in both directions.

The accident, between junctions 50 and 51 on the A14 near Stowmarket, happened at about 12.50pm.

The tanker driver escaped uninjured but his vehicle was carrying liquid nitrogen - which in its liquid form can burn skin and damage eyes - sparking a chemical alert by the police.

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Officers closed the road in both directions and the fire service were called in to inspect the tanker, with firefighters wearing specialist breathing apparatus.

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “We closed the road in both directions near Stowmarket after the tanker collided with the central reservation of the eastbound carriageway, close to the A14 and A140 junction.

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“Everything just stopped. The road was closed, and diversions put in place and the fire service checked the tanker, which was carrying liquid nitrogen.''

The road was shut for about 50 minutes until the fire service declared the vehicle safe. The westbound carriageways were then reopened, and part of the eastbound carriageway.

But the A14 was not completely clear until the tanker was removed at 3.45pm, nearly three hours after the accident.

The police spokesman added that no other vehicles were involved in the accident, the tanker did not flip over, and the driver did not suffer any serious injuries.

Unconfirmed reports said the vehicle may have suffered a puncture prior to the accident.

The fire service were alerted to the accident by the police and sent fire engines from Stowmarket and Needham Market.

Geoff Pyke, an assistant divisional officer with the fire service, was called to the scene.

He said: “A lot of precautionary steps were taken, which is the right thing to do. But there were horrendous hold ups and disruption.”

A spokesman for the fire service added: “The police were treating it as a chemical incident and we sent two breathing apparatus wearers to check the vehicle for damage, to ensure it was not releasing chemicals.

“Contact with the liquid can cause skin burns and damage to the eyes. But there was no structural damage to the tank and no further action was required by us. The police were arranging for the tanker to be removed.''

nMeanwhile, following a separate incident yesterday, a Lowestoft man was last night charged with drink-driving and careless driving after his vehicle left the road and ended up in a ditch.

Lee Damerell, 35, of Rotterdam Road, was held in custody overnight and is due to appear before magistrates in Lowestoft this morning.

The accident happened on the A12 at Benacre, between Lowestoft and Wrentham, at about 7.50am.

There were no passengers on board the minibus when the crash happened.

The road was blocked for about two hours while emergency services were at the scene and police set up diversions through minor country roads.

There were no other vehicles involved in the accident but the driver was left trapped at the wheel.

Fire crews from Wrentham, Southwold and Lowestoft attended the scene and had to stabilise the vehicle before they could begin cutting the driver free.

It took an hour to free the motorist, who was taken to the James Paget Hospital at Gorleston with what at the time were thought to be possible life-threatening injuries.

However, when the driver was treated at the hospital his injuries were found not to be serious and he was not kept in.

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