Local firies clean up serious Barrier Highway chemical spill

Fire and Rescue NSW Station 256 Cobar crew were called to an incident on the Barrier Highway west of Cobar on Thursday to secure a leaking container of highly dangerous pesticide that was being transported on the back of a truck.

Fire and Rescue NSW Station 256 Cobar crew were called upon to use their Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) training last week following a serious chemical spill on the Barrier Highway.

Station 256 Cobar brigade captain Tony Walkinshaw said emergency services responded to a 000 call from a truck driver at approximately 2.20pm on Thursday.

Mr Walkinshaw said the driver reported that a 1,000 litre container of pesticide that he was transporting had been found to be leaking.

The Cobar and Broken Hill HAZMAT teams, as well as paramedics from Cobar and Wilcannia, attended the chemical spill 205km west of Cobar.

Mr Walkinshaw said after identifying the leaking pesticide was extremely dangerous, he sought technical advice from the Fire and Rescue NSW State Chemical Scientific Chemist and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on how best to contain and deal with the spill.

“Our crews secured the area and blocked the highway in both directions.

“Crews wore fully encapsulated gas-type suits and chemical resistant splash suits to investigate,” Mr Walkinshaw explained.

He said the pod carrying the chemical was unloaded off the truck onto a pallet which was on a tarp on the side of the road.

It was then wrapped up to contain it before the pod was transported to a secure storage location.

“The area was then neutralised with a bleach solution and made safe,” Mr Walkinshaw said.

The highway was re-opened later that night at around 12.30am. Further remedial works were also carried out at the immediate spill area in the following days.

Mr Walkinshaw said as a precaution the truck driver and his passenger were transported by paramedics to the Wilcannia Hospital for observation as a result of their exposure to the chemical.

“Fire and Rescue NSW acknowledges the patience of emergency workers and the public during this operation,” Mr Walkinshaw said.