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Highway diesel spill blamed for accident
A Hazmat team was called in to clean up the diesel fuel that spilled on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Aranguez, on Friday. The diesel spill is being blamed as a possible factor in the death of a 62-year-old retired police inspector and several other accidents along the highway. Retired inspector Lynton McIntosh, 62, of Enterprise, Chaguanas, was killed in an accident on Sunday afternoon near the diesel spill.
A report said McIntosh was driving his taxi west along the highway when it skidded and crashed. Two passengers were taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital. Two other people who went to help them were injured when another car slammed into them. On Friday, a trailer spilled diesel on the highway and caused a traffic backup that reached as far as Curepe in the East as well as beyond Caroni.
St Joseph police said they received reports of four other accidents, with all the drivers complaining that they had lost control when they hit the “diesel spot.” On Monday, a meeting was held on the accident by officials at the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure. Staff from the Ministry of National Security and Fire Services also attended. In a phone interview on Monday, Director of Highways, Roger Ganesh, said up until 4 am a crew had been cleaning away the diesel residue as well as other debris.
“It was cleaned properly up until four this morning. I am still waiting on formal results and to find out if the fatal accident was the result of the spill,” he said. Ganesh said not all the accidents that occurred were due to the spill. He said the meeting was important for improving efficiency and making the public aware of the situation. “People should be more cautious in these areas—and they are still driving fast and want to break the speed limit.
Motorists need information and to know what to do. We monitor and deliver information in time,” he said. He said a Freeport Company was employed to remove the residue of the spill. “We don’t expect this to recur. It was a serious problem,” he said. Fire Services deputy chief fire officer, Kenny Gopaul, said the organisation was not to blame for the accidents.
“We used foam compound which is used at the airport to remove grease, and high-power water, and stardust, which is an absorbent material, to remove the diesel,” he said. Gopaul said he wanted to tell drivers to be careful on the roads when they are wet and, if they observe any hazards, to inform fire services. “That’s why we are there. “We used everything to pick up the residue. I don’t know what problem we have there again,” he said.
Co-ordinator of the Police Service Road Safety Project PC Brent Batson said the rainfall this past weekend could have been a contributing factor in bringing the oil to the surface. He added: “The Ministry of Works and Infrastructure had a special Hazmat contractor to do a proper cleaning of the road surface. This was done yesterday afternoon. It was done as a proactive measure. We were advised that the surface was treated using a Hazmat specialist.
“The TTPS would like to remind drivers of heavy goods and tractor trailers who are moving those types of fluids that they are responsible to ensure their vehicles are up to the highest standards of integrity and are road worthy.” He said drivers should check all valve seals and covers attached to the areas where liquids are kept on their vehicles to prevent spillage. He added, “We would like to remind drivers to check tyres and wipers with the advent of the rainy season and of the importance of reducing driving speeds.”
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