Fifty-six-year-old Darnley Leacock is counting his blessings tonight after walking away unscathed from his damaged overturned oil tanker.
Leacock, of Black Rock, St Michael was driving near the Constant roundabout, St George from the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) around 7 a.m. when the Sol
14-wheeler in which he was transporting some 40,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel “encountered a bit of difficulty”, and landed on its left side.
“He [Leacock] was fine, paramedics checked him out but he was also sent to a private facility and is fine at the moment, just a little shaken up,” General Manager of Sol Barbados Limited Ezra Prescod told Barbados TODAY on the scene.
“There was no panic when we received the call this morning,” Prescod said, adding it was “the first serious incident of this nature that we have had in many years”.
A resident of Constant, St George who only gave his name as David was on the scene from the onset.
“I was walking coming up from the Valley Plantation and smelled gas and when I turned the corner, that’s when I saw the truck on its side. I asked the driver if he is okay, he told me ‘yes’ and he came out by himself and was walking about normal and made calls to the necessary people,” David told Barbados TODAY.
Emergency personnel responded to the call around 7:15 a.m. and declared the immediate area a “disaster zone”. Officers from the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) also had to cordon off the four arteries to the Constant roundabout to vehicular traffic.
“You had fuel, to be specific, gasoline leaking. Once gasoline is leaking, very volatile, you are talking about fumes emanating so we had to cordon off the area to prevent any ignition source,” Acting Divisional Officer of the Barbados Fire Service Gordon Boxhill told Barbados TODAY.
It took officials hours to secure the accident site. First the Barbados Light and Power Company Limited had to cut the power flow to the high-tension wires in the immediate vicinity. After that, workers from the Ministry of Transport and Works came in and spread sand to contain the oil which was leaking from the tanker with the help of firemen who were also foaming the area under the watchful eye of officials from the Environmental Protection Department.
Shouts of “fuel, fuel” from firemen near-by during that process sent personnel scampering to stem the flow. One official who did not want to be named, said this was to ensure that the fuel did not leak into the drains.
It was then the turn of Sol engineers to transfer the gasoline and diesel from the overturned vehicle to another 14-wheeler.
“We had to take extreme precautions to ensure that none of that product contaminated the environment [as we take the issue of] health, safety and the environment very seriously,” Prescod said.
Eight hours later, a crane and personnel from Hinds Transport were able to lift the much lighter tanker from its left side and on to its wheels in two parts, first the truck, which received most of the damage, then the tanker.
“We will investigate it [the accident], what went wrong, what went right, and deal with the case as it may be,” the SOL executive said.
Two senior officers and nine firemen under the command of Boxill, responded to the accident with two water tenders and one rescue tender, all from Probyn Street. Also on hand were officials from the Roving Response Team, Barbados Water Authority and Sol corporate staff.