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Chemical contained in Wycarbah three days after leak

Emergency crews shut the Capricorn Hwy for several hours after a B-double began leaking a chemical. Photo Lisa Benoit / The Morning Bulletin
Emergency crews shut the Capricorn Hwy for several hours after a B-double began leaking a chemical. Photo Lisa Benoit / The Morning Bulletin Lisa Benoit

UPDATE 5PM FRIDAY: THREE days after a truck began leaking chemicals on the Capricorn Highway at Wycarbah, fire crews have finally declared the scene to be safe. 

Crews are currently leaving the scene after passing the matter back to the representatives out there. 

 

UPDATE 7.50AM TUESDAY: ALL persons are urged to remain away from the scene of the truck leaking Anydrous Ammonia at Stanwell. 

Reports indicate emergency crews have spotted a group of civilians trying to access the scene through a rail corridor. 

Anhydrous ammonia is a colourless, highly irritating gas with a sharp, suffocating odor. 

Crews at the scene are taking extreme precautions as breathing in even small amounts of the chemical can result in burning of the eyes, nose and throat.

Higher doses can result in coughing or choking and very high exposure can result in death from a swollen through or chemical burns to the lungs. 

An exclusion zone remains around the scene and the Capricorn Hwy may be closed intermittently throughout today as crews work to clear the scene. 

Motorists travelling between Rockhampton, Westwood and further west are urged to take alternate routes. 

Motorists can reach Westwood and beyond by travelling through Mt Morgan, to Dululu and along the Leichhardt Hwy. 

UPDATE 7.20AM TUESDAY: EMERGENCY services crews remain at the scene of a chemical leak at Wycarbah. 

The Capricorn Highway was closed and a 1km exclusion zone was put in place yesterday afternoon when a truck carrying Anyhdrous Ammonia began leaking. 

A police spokeserspon said Queensland Fire and Emergency Crews were forced to desert attempts at decanting the dangerous chemical into another truck overnight. 

"Crews will be back out at the scene this morning to try and pump out the chemical," the spokesperson said.

"The chemical has frozen overnight and we are hoping it will thaw out as the sun comes up.

"There is a lot of ammonia in the air out there and all oncoming vehicles are urged to keep a safe distance."

The spokesperson was unsure how long it would take to clear the scene but advised the Capricorn Hwy would be closed intermittently throughout today. 

A QFES spokesperson said the decanting operation would continue today. 

"There is still a large exclusion zone in place due to the ammonia fumes," the spokesperson said. 

A Queensland Ambulance spokesperson said crews were on standby at the scene. 

UPDATE 1.55PM: Reports indicate traffic is starting to move on the Capricorn Hwy at Wycarbah. 

UPDATE 1.35PM: A GOVERNMENT spokesperson has advised there is no longer any threat of explosion. 

The spokesperson said crews have confirmed the truck is carrying a form of ammonia but there is no threat of it exploding. 

Regardless of this, a 1km exclusion zone remains in place and the Capricorn Hwy is closed. 

Motorists travelling between Rockhampton, Westwood and further west are urged to take alternate routes. 

Motorists can reach Westwood and beyond by travelling through Mt Morgan, to Dululu and along the Leichhardt Hwy. 

UPDATE 1.25PM: Reports from the scene of the incident indicate the Capricorn Hwy will be closed for several hours as crews work to make the scene safe. 

Reports suggest the driver of the B-Double noticed a chemical leaking from the rear of the vehicle and pulled over. 

Further reports indicate the truck is carrying anhydrous ammonia which is a colourless, highly irritating gas with a sharp, suffocating odor. 

Anyhdrous ammonia is commonly known as a nitrogen based fertilizer. 

Emergency services crews reportedly cannot get too close to the truck as the chemical is extremely dangerous to inhale. 

Breathing in even small amounts of the chemical can result in burning of the eyes, nose and throat. Higher doses can result in coughing or choking and very high exposure can result in death from a swollen through or chemical burns to the lungs. 

UPDATE 1.15PM: Emergency services crews are still on the scene near Westwood where a truck is leaking ammonium nitrate. 

Further reports suggest the truck is located in a paddock off to the side of the Capricorn Hwy and the driver is safe. 

A 1km exclusion zone around the scene remains in place and the Capricorn Hwy is still closed. 

 

UPDATE 12.30PM: Further reports suggest a pressure release valve on the truck has failed. 

All motorists travelling on the Capricorn Hwy in the vicinity of Westwood and Wycarbah are urged to stay where they are or expect delays. 

It is unknown when the Capricorn Hwy will re-open. 

UPDATE 12.15PM: REPORTS indicate the truck is carrying ammonium nitrate and the driver is concerned it could explode. 

The incident comes less than a year since eight people, including five emergency services officers, were injured when a truck carrying about 50 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, crashed and exploded on the Mitchell Hwy near Charleville in September. 

Motorists travelling along the Capricorn Hwy are urged to take alternate routes or expect delays as a 1km exclusion zone has been established. 

BREAKING 12PM: MULTIPLE emergency services crews are responding to the Capricorn Hwy, about 10km out of Westwood on the Rockhampton side, following reports a B-Double is in danger of exploding. 

Initial reports suggest a 1km exclusion zone is being set up around the truck which is leaking explosive material. 

Reports indicate the truck is pulled over on the side of the road and crews are closing down the highway in all directions as the scene is made safe. 

More updates to come. 

 

Topics:  capricorn highway, editors picks, emergency, explosion, police



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