Northern Park roads closed for days after big creosote spill

2008-03-30 00:00

A MASSIVE chemical spillage has led to the closure of roads in the Northern Park area after a heavy-duty truck spilled 15 000 litres of creosote on Linscott Road in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Divisional officer at the Pietermaritzburg Fire Department, Lincoln Pennells, told The Witness that the Linscott Road corner and Sanctuary Road will be closed for the next three to four days while fire department personnel clean up.

“The area is a slope, so the spill has spread. At the most, the clean-up may continue for a week,” said Pennells.

It is not clear how the huge tanker truck ended up in the suburb. According to Pennells, the truck, hauling two tankers with a combined load of 27 000 litres of creosote, seems to have lost its way trying to get on to the N3.

While trying to find its way, the truck rolled back and hit a tree, damaging one of the tanks.

Zale van Breda, who lives in Linscott Road, was woken by the truck at 2 am.

“I heard three loud bangs and when I went outside to check, I noticed that a truck had hit the tree in my front yard, with the chemical leaking down the road,” he said.

Van Breda said he and three of his neighbours are concerned about the toxicity of the chemical and the effects it may have on their health as it could have seeped into storm water drains.

Van Breda said they notified the fire department about their concerns and were assured that the storm water drains will be attended to.

Creosote, or bitumen, is coal tar and variants of the product are used as a wood preserver on railroad ties, power poles and fence posts.

Large quantities can cause irritation to the skin and eyes. Long exposure to vapours or long contact with skin may cause cancer. It is also hazardous to the environment and aquatic organisms.

Pennells said all precautions will be taken to ensure that the chemical is removed completely.

Kenny Chetty, head of traffic and safety for the Msunduzi Municipality, said that traffic from Chase Valley Road has been diverted to Town Bush Road and motorists are requested to please adhere to the traffic diversions as motorists driving over the chemical are slowing down the clean-up process.

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