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Company cleans up 70,000L of acid spilled from train

Shane Wilson and Rod Sercombe, of Kennedy Creek Lime, delivered lime 1200km to Julia Creek to neutralise an acid spill after a train derailment.
Shane Wilson and Rod Sercombe, of Kennedy Creek Lime, delivered lime 1200km to Julia Creek to neutralise an acid spill after a train derailment. Emily Smith Contributed

A DAM left filled with acid following a train derailment at Julia Creek has been neutralised, thanks to a series of 1200km deliveries made by Mackay company Kennedy Creek Lime.

A locomotive and 26 carriages of a freight train carrying 200,000 litres of sulphuric acid crashed on December 27 last year.

It is believed about 70,000 litres of the acid spilled into the surrounding environment, including a nearby dam.

But Kennedy Creek Lime sales manager Rod Sercombe said the dam had now been neutralised to the point where cattle could drink out of it.

"It rained about the same time we got the call (to supply the lime) so that meant about 90% of the acid was contained in the dam," Mr Sercombe said.

He said because Julia Creek was heavy "black soil country" the acid hadn't seeped through to infiltrate the water table.

In order to spread the lime over the dam, it had to be put in one-tonne bags.

Mr Sercombe said the bags were then picked up by an excavator and swung, to sprinkle over the surface of the dam.

At the same time a pump churned the dam, to create a whirlpool effect and mix the lime through.

The lime was also used to treat the surrounding derailment site.

The lime was put into the dam by swinging it with an excavator.
The lime was put into the dam by swinging it with an excavator.

It wasn't the first time the company had responded to an environmental disaster: in 2012 they helped contain the spill from a crashed truck carrying cyanide south of Bloomsbury.

The soil where the cyanide spilt had to be dug up and incinerated. The "wow factor" this time was the 1200km delivery.

All up, 200 tonnes of lime was transported, through a series of 38-tonne deliveries.

Truck driver Shane Wilson made one of the trips to Julia Creek, and while he said he liked the place, he hadn't enjoyed the swathes of flies.

Most of the company's lime goes to the mining and agriculture sectors.

The numbers

 200,000: Litres of sulphuric acid on board the derailed train

 70,000: Litres believed to have spilled, with most going into a nearby dam.

 200: Tonnes of lime used to neutralise

 1200: The distance the company had to travel for each delivery.

Topics:  editors picks julia creek



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