A697 road reopened after lorry carrying radioactive material crashed

Police have reopened a road in Northumberland where a lorry carrying radioactive material crashed

The scene after a lorry crashed on the A697 near Whittingham
The scene after a lorry crashed on the A697 near Whittingham

Police last night re-opened an A road through Northumberland more than a day after a lorry carrying radioactive material crashed.

Northumbria Police and the Environment Agency removed the vehicle from the A697 near Rothbury by 5.30pm and the road was reopened in both directions.

Earlier in the day, police revealed there had been some leakage of the substance being carried by the lorry although the agency insisted it had not spilled from the vehicle.

The lorry came off the road and overturned near High Learchild Farm, North of Thrunton, at 3.30pm on Tuesday.

Police and the agency attended, while Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service sent two crews, from Alnwick and Wooler.

The driver of the lorry suffered minor injuries but did not require hospital treatment.

 

Concerns over the load the lorry was carrying caused the A697 to be closed in both directions between its junctions at Rothbury and the Bridge of Aln pub.

The fire crews left the incident to police and the agency later on Monday, with a spokesman saying the substance involved posed no danger.

Agency officials then revealed the vehicle had been carrying 67 drums of waste material from the oil and gas industry, which contained “low level naturally-occurring radioactive material”.

Their spokesman said: “This material is classed as the lowest level of radioactivity; it is naturally occurring, and is very viscous, meaning that it is not likely to flow away from the scene.”

Police said later that night they were satisfied the material had remained in the drums and not leaked or spilled onto the surrounding area.

However, yesterday morning officers revealed that a further assessment by specialists had shown that a small number of the canisters had “leaked slightly”.

The agency said “about” six of the drums had been damaged and that some of the material had spilled into the lorry’s trailer. However, officials said there was “no evidence” that any of the material had escaped from the vehicle.

 

Due to the nature of the substance, it was necessary for each canister to be removed from the lorry individually.

This was done during the course of the day with only the vehicle needing to be removed, to allow the road to reopen.

Superintendent Gillian Mitchell said: “Due to the nature of the material on the lorry it was necessary for each canister to be removed individually, this has now been done”Supt Mitchell said the co-operation between agencies helped to get the road re-open, and thanked motorists and the local community for their understanding during the disruption that had been caused.

An agency spokesman said earlier in the day: “It is understood that about six of the drums have been damaged in the incident, and that some of the material has spilled into the lorry’s trailer.

“However, there is no evidence that any of the material has escaped from the vehicle.

“Our partner agencies arranged for the safe removal of the drums and the lorry. Environment Agency officers are also on site, and we haven’t found any evidence of any impact on local watercourses or groundwater.”

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