‘Reckless’ lorry driver let dangerous chemical pour out of his tanker before driving off

A “reckless” lorry driver from Immingham has been banned from driving trucks after letting a dangerous chemical pour onto the side of the road before driving off. Simon Carrington, 52, let 200 litres of highly toxic and flammable acetic anhydride liquid gush from his tanker after opening a valve when he pulled up near a chemical works. Another driver subsequently suffered breathing difficulties because of the spill which had to be cleared up by an emergency response team.

CCTV from the chemical plant captured Mr Carrington leaving the scene and he was hauled before a hearing with the Traffic Commissioner as a result. In a ruling banning him from holding commercial lorry driver licences, deputy traffic commissioner for North East England Fiona Harrington said the chemical spill posed a dangerous risk to health. In her findings she wrote: “Acetic Anhydride is a hazardous substance due to its particular highly corrosive as well as flammable properties and the clear liquid, and vapour from it, has potential to cause serious acute and chronic harm to the health of a person if inhaled, ingested or on skin contact.”

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She said the CCTV footage showed Mr Carrington, working for S.J.

Barrick of Barrow upon Humber, opening valves on his tanker after he had unloaded at the Dow Corning chemical site in Barry, South Wales.

The Dow Corning chemical plant near where the chemical spill happened

Mr Barry claimed he had opened the valves to save time when his chemical tanker was cleaned out at a nearby “tank wash” and that he panicked when he saw the chemicals start to pour out. But Miss Harrington said the CCTV footage showed Mr Harrington calmly walking around the tanker and back into his cab despite the chemicals spilling from the open valve. She wrote: “The CCTV clearly shows the liquid pouring out from the valve once it was opened and before the driver moves round into view to climb the rear ladder of the vehicle -as well as a rapidly growing pool of liquid spilling onto the ground.

“Despite this liquid being a hazardous substance the Licence Holder takes no apparent interest or preventative action to limit this discharge then or at any time thereafter- and in fact acerbates the rate of discharge by proceeding to climb up the tanker and open the top lid which increases the flow rate. “The liquid is visibly still discharging from the tanker when he returns to ground level, with a large puddle clearly evident on the ground. The Licence Holder then (without any apparent concern or panic or haste) removes the hazardous marking signs from the tanker and drives off leaving the spill unattended -and with liquid still splashing out from the tanker onto the road behind him.

Deputy traffic commissioner for North East England Fiona Harrington

“The CCTV footage also supports my concern that the liquid is likely have spilled on or against the body and rear tyre of the vehicle before he drove off, and it is possible that other vehicles accessing the site may have driven over the puddle of highly corrosive liquid.

The access road is seen on the footage to be in regular use by vehicles entering and leaving the site. “The spill was contained and cleaned up by a Dow Corning emergency response team only after another driver mentioned the smell and his subsequent breathing difficulties.”

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Miss Harrington said although Mr Carrington was a highly experienced driver, his evidence did not tally with the CCTV footage. She said: “Contrary to his own evidence the Licence Holder would have been aware of the significant discharge of liquid from the tanker from the point he opened the discharge valve on the side of the lorry.”

She also rejected a claim that personal problems had “affected his judgement and concentration.” Miss Harrington said: “The Licence Holder was reckless – demonstrating a wilful blindness to the risk of the offending by acting as he did and the risk was nevertheless taken. “Once the offence was committed he then failed to take the reasonable steps I would expect by him to minimise the actual harm caused, particularly with his knowledge of the serious hazards relating to this highly corrosive and flammable liquid.”

Miss Harrington added that the driver’s misconduct had been so serious that, on balance, despite his otherwise good history as a driver and evidence during a conduct hearing in Leeds, his professional driving licence had to be revoked and a disqualification order made.

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1 Response

  1. RT @truckerworld: ‘Reckless’ lorry driver let dangerous chemical pour out of his tanker before driving off https://t.co/0FM0UPIk5N #road #f…

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