Alert as chemical load rolls over

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2011, 12:00am


Firefighters and clean-up workers took more than six hours to remove a container truck loaded with 17 tonnes of poisonous chemicals after the load rolled over on an elevated highway in Sha Tin.

The crash occurred shortly after 12.30pm as the truck travelled in the slow lane of Shing Mun Tunnel Road near the junction with Tai Po Road, bringing traffic to a standstill. The vehicle was on its way to the mainland with 70 barrels of chemicals.

Police said the truck ran out of control while veering right to avoid another vehicle changing lanes.

'The vehicle went across the central divider and stopped in the opposite [Tsuen Wan-bound] lane while its shipping container toppled onto one side and remained in the Tai Po-bound lane,' a police officer said.

The door of the container broke open and the barrels containing dangerous chemicals were loose inside. But police said there was no spill.

The driver, 35, was trapped and pulled from the truck by firemen. He was treated for minor injuries at Prince of Wales Hospital.

Eleven fire engines and an ambulance were sent to the scene as firefighters donned protective suits to secure the barrels.

A crane truck was used to unload the barrels one by one, while water jets were put on standby.

The Transport Department said all the lanes were closed to traffic as firemen and workers removed the wreckage and chemical containers.

'At one stage, vehicles were jammed bumper to bumper and queues stretched about three kilometres from the site of the accident to Sha Tin racecourse,' the department's chief transport officer, Rachel Kwan Chui-lan, said.

Traffic was redirected and the road was reopened at about 7pm.

The wreckage was towed to a government vehicle plant on Lantau for examination.

Officers from the New Territories South police traffic unit are investigating.