HEAVY LOAD: The Pacific Highway was plunged into chaos yesterday as crews worked to recover a crashed truck from the Richmond R
HEAVY LOAD: The Pacific Highway was plunged into chaos yesterday as crews worked to recover a crashed truck from the Richmond R

Massive operation to recover rig from river

By EMMA O'NEILL

"IF the crane wire snaps, it'll cut right through you."

This was the warning given by Goonellabah Fire Brigade inspector Mark Cavanough at the site of yesterday's B-double truck retrieval from the Richmond River near Wardell.

The truck sank around 4am on Tuesday after colliding with another passing truck.

The driver escaped with minor injuries while the 26-year-old driver of the passing vehicle is still being treated at Lismore Base Hospital. It was a delicate operation involving two 25-metre high cranes, a tow-truck, a dive crew, RTA, and HAZMAT representatives.

Marine Civil contractor Daniel Thompson spent the day diving in the murky water to attach chains to each trailer of the B-double.

Crane operator Greg Beer said the plan was to turn the truck upright, dismantle it into three sections, and use the cranes to pull each section on to the tow truck.

"The B-double was carrying about 11 tonnes of cargo when it sank, so it would be impossible for us to lift it in one piece," he said.

Five inflatable booms were placed around the B-double to ensure any potential diesel spill during the operation would be contained.

The Pacific Highway was closed from the Alstonville to Casino turn-offs from 9am to late last night for the retrieval to be carried out.

There were delays at either end of the road closures, and traffic detours added petrol costs and caused inconvenience to hundreds of motorists.

Ballina resident Sharon Puzey had avoided road blocks on her drive from South Ballina.

Ms Puzey came within 20 metres of the operation before being turned around.

The RTA didn't expect any further road closures today.



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