Major road closed as tanker overturns

FIREFIGHTERS and environmental officers averted a major safety hazard after a fuel tanker overturned on the A140, leaking petrol and diesel into nearby waterways.

FIREFIGHTERS and environmental officers averted a major safety hazard after a fuel tanker overturned on the A140, leaking petrol and diesel into nearby waterways.

Just before midnight on Saturday a lorry carrying more than 40,000 litres of fuel toppled on a roundabout at Dickleburgh, blocking the northbound carriageway.

The road remained blocked yesterday as the containment and clean-up operation continued until 4pm, involving dozens of firefighters from all over Norfolk as well as officers from the Environment Agency and South Norfolk District Council. Traffic was diverted through the village of Dickleburgh.

Makeshift sand dams were built in roadside ditches to prevent the spilled fuel contaminating rivers and a bed of foam was sprayed around the lorry to minimise the risk of fumes igniting.

Power was cut to nearby lampposts after the truck knocked one to the floor, leaving wiring exposed, and the remaining fuel was transferred to a second tanker to be removed from the crash site.

Leading firefighter Phil Leeder said: "The potential for something to go wrong was quite high.

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"We has two primary concerns. One was the risk of fire from fuel leaking from the tanker and the other was the environmental impact.

"The Highways Agency brought sand and we put dams in the ditch both sides of the lorry to contain the spill.

"The Environment Agency worked to clean up the itches and skimmed fuel from the surface of the water.

"We needed specialist equipment to decant the fuel from one tanker to the other and two lorries, one with a crane, to right the tanker and take it away."

Bridget Marr of the Environment Agency said: "We are very hopeful that this spill has been contained successfully and quickly enough to prevent any major impact. Only a very short stretch of water has been affected."

Chris Tubby said special absorbent booms were used alongside the sand dams to contain the spill in the ditch.

"Compared to what could have happened we have a very small spill and the fire service have been excellent in preventing fire and helping us to contain the spillage."