Acid spill causes severe road damage

Acid spill causes severe road damage
The crew used lime and liquid chemicals to neutralise the acid

Acid spill causes severe road damage. A truck accident that occurred on the N2, past the Paulpietersburg turn-off, on Thursday afternoon, 31 May, at around 17:00, caused extensive damage to the road surface.

According to the Mkhondo Fire and Rescue Unit personnel, they received a call after a truck overturned and spilled hazardous chemicals on the road. Upon their arrival, they found a heavy motor vehicle, lying on its side and Sulphuric Acid all over the road. The N2 to Pongola was closed off immediately as this type of acid is very dangerous and cannot be washed away with water.

The driver stated that he was travelling to Pongola when the truck started to slip on the wet road and he lost control of the vehicle. Fortunately, the driver only sustained minor injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

On Friday, 1 June, a clean-up crew, specialising in hazardous chemical spills arrived at the scene but due to unforeseen circumstances between the truck company and the clean-up crew, clean-up of the acid spill was delayed. The crew only managed to start with the clean-up process late Friday afternoon. They treated the acid spill by neutralizing it with lime and a liquid chemical. Only then the road surface could be washed clean with water.

The road was opened for traffic for short periods of time, but after the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport visited the scene on Sunday, 3 June, and informed SANRAL (The South African National Roads Agency) of the enormous damage caused to this section of road, SANRAL gave the instruction to close the road until further notice.

It was stated that the acid seeped through the tar, which resulted in the tar surface lifting. The acid also affected the grass and ground surfaces next to the road which is an environmental hazard.

A stretch of about 20km is closed off even though only about 1,5km of road surface is severely damaged. According to the Mkhondo Fire and Rescue Unit, motorists were not allowed to travel on the affected road as vehicles will spread the acid even further and cause more damage.

The Sulphuric acid also creates harmful fumes, which is extremely dangerous when inhaled. Mkhondo Fire and Rescue will inform the community as to when the road will be opened again and safe to travel on.