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Published: 2002-09-24 00:00:00

Quick actions from emergency services and Environment Waikato have kept most of the toxic chemicals from last night’s truck fire from contaminating the Waikato River.

The articulated truck, with both trailers laden with chemicals and paint, burst into flames about 8pm last night on Cobham Drive, with explosions rocking neighbouring houses. Eight fire engines from Hamilton and surrounding towns attended the fire, and Environment Waikato placed barriers to prevent chemicals flowing into drains which flow into the Waikato River.

The crews worked through the night to remove the goods from the trailers, which is likely to take until mid morning to complete. The chemicals included formaldehyde, pesticides and a large quantity of paint. All the goods were being carried according to strict guidelines.

Both trailers were destroyed in the spectacular blaze but the truck itself was not damaged. Once the trailers are clear the area will be washed down, with sucker trucks ensuring the wash does not contaminate the river.

Environment Waikato Read Response officer Jason Crozier said the amount of chemical which escaped to the river was likely to be small and the damage was quickly minimised. Emergency teams had worked on the site all night to contain the chemicals and minimise effects.

All downstream water users, including the Anchor Dairy Factory, had been notified and the factory had shut off its water intake for a time. However the small amount of chemical and the large capacity of the river should ensure minimal damage, he said.