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Brake failure blamed for runaway truck in river

THURSDAY - 11.30AM: BRAKE failure was blamed for the incident at Raleigh that saw a farm truck loaded with fertiliser end up in the Bellinger River.

Fortunately, for the owner he was not in the cab when the heavy vehicle rolled down a steep hill and slid over an embankment and ended up submerged in the river.

The incident happened on a North Bank Rd property on Wednesday morning and prompted a major salvage operation as heavy vehicle tow truck winched the truck and trailer from the river.

Addressing fears of water contamination in the Bellinger River, the NSW Environment Protection Authority said the truck and trailer were believed to have been carrying 27-tonnes of slow dissolving superphosphate fertiliser.

A crane was used to remove 10 one tonne bags of the product from the trailer.

"The EPA is focussed on minimising the release of any more fertiliser into the water and ensuring there are no further impacts to the water quality during the clean-up and recovery process," an EPA spokesperson said.

"The EPA will be taking samples of the water for testing and residents should avoid swimming in the water."

Fire and Rescue officers, Hazmat units and Rural Fire Service units also attended the scene along with representatives from the Bellingen Shire Council.

Residents who notice pollution in the Bellinger River can call EPA's Environment Line on 131 555.

Matt Deans

WEDNESDAY - 3.30PM: A SALVAGE is underway this afternoon to remove a farm truck, carrying fertiliser, that has rolled down a bank into the Bellinger River.

Heavy vehicle tow trucks are attempting to winch the truck from the water behind a property off North Bank Rd between Raleigh and Bellingen.

Hazmat, Rural Fire and Coffs Harbour Fire and Rescue crews were called to the property after the heavy vehicle rolled down a hill and slid over an embankment this morning.

"Fire and Rescue NSW are here to ensure that minimal impact is done to the environment in the salvage of this truck," Fire and Rescue Inspector Tony Lenthall said.

"A quantity of the load is still on the truck and once the truck is salvaged from the river further investigations will be made as to whether there is any of the load that has entered the river and procedures will be put in to protect the environment.

"The cause of the accident is under investigation, but all I can say is the truck has gone down a large steep hill and gone over an embankment into the river."

"The driver wasn't in the cab at the time, so the driver wasn't injured as a result of this," Insp. Lenthall said.

Topics:  bellingen, bellinger river, nsw fire and rescue, raleigh, salvage, truck



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