A truck carrying hazardous chemicals burst into flames and shrapnel on an Outback road.
Authorities are investigating how a road train carrying a mine blasting substance ignited and exploded along Great Central Road, near Gold Road Resources’ Gruyere mine – about 1000km east of Geraldton.
The Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services found the heavy vehicle was transporting several tonnes of ammonium nitrate emulsion when one of its wheels caught on fire.
The operator successfully decoupled his truck, and moved to a safe distance, before the detached semi-trailer blew up about noon on 24 October 2022.
Representatives from the department and Gruyere mine discovered the blast had deposited shrapnel, created small fires in nearby bushland, left a 1.5 metre-deep crater in the road, and released a cloud of toxic smoke at least 100 metres into the air.
The Western Australian Police Force established a 2km exclusion zone around the scene while investigators collected samples for lab analysis.
“A B-double carrying ammonium nitrate emulsion had a brake fire, [the] driver attempted to extinguish before unhitching and bailing out of the area,” the Mining Mayhem Facebook page said.
“Tanker trailer brakes and wheel bearings allegedly overheated as the source of the fire which … first reported at 9:40 [am local time],” the Dangerous Goods and Hazmat Facebook page added.
“The roadway is about 20 metres wide with a 30 metre distance between tree-line to tree-line, a small bush fire also occurred. The ensuing ammonium nitrate emulsion explosion was heard at the Gruyere mine site some 40km distant.”
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