A firefighter moves a fire hose yesterday at the scene of Monday night’s fatal fuel tanker crash near Lismore.
A firefighter moves a fire hose yesterday at the scene of Monday night’s fatal fuel tanker crash near Lismore. Jacklyn Wagner

Grafton man dies in truck crash

THE busy Bruxner Highway is expected to stay closed until mid-morning today following Monday night’s fatal petrol tanker crash 7km south of Lismore which spilled 7000 litres of fuel.

The 45-year-old driver from Grafton died instantly when his south-bound petrol tanker and dog-trailer failed to negotiatea right-hand curve just before the Coraki Road junction shortly after 9.30pm on Monday.

It is thought the tanker over-corrected causing it to cross the centre lines and roll over, killing the driver and rupturing one of the tanks.

Emergency service workers laboured through Monday night to contain the volatile fuel spill and render the area safe.

The driver’s body was removed from the wreckage early yesterday morning, but clean-up crews were continuing to work yesterday and last night to contain and remove the spilled fuel, and decanter another 33,000 litres still in the tanker.

Inspector Greg Moore said it was a volatile situation, but police were on the scene within minutes and managed to set up a 300-metre exclusion zone and, with the help of a local farmer, averted apotential disaster.

“Investigations are continuing and police will be preparing a brief for the coroner,” he said.

NSW Fire Brigade Duty Commander Greg Lewis, who led the hazardous clean-up operation, said firefighters and the Goonellabah Hazmat Unit were quickly on the scene, along with paramedics, the Rural Fire Service and heavy vehicle recovery experts.

“The fuel was contained by firefighters using a local farmer’s backhoe to create dams and it is being removed in accordance with Department of Environment guidelines,” he said.

“Firefighters’ main concern was to render the area safe through the application of foam to prevent flammable vapours.

“We are continuing to monitor the area with gas-monitoring equipment.

“The NSW Fire Brigades very much appreciates the assistance of all emergency services and the RFS for providing meals on-site.”

A NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change spokeswoman said the full extent of the environmental damage was still unclear, but confirmed local contamination had occurred which would require the removal of soil.

“We are talking to the NSW Fire Brigades and the tanker owners (BP distributor Reliance Petroleum) about clean-up strategies,” she said.



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