Bid to identify source of spill on road
on 04/02/2013 00:00:00
Fire crews and council officials tried to clean the greasy surface using chemical dispersants but that exercise proved futile and the route had to be closed.
By 5pm, when traffic was at its busiest, even with diversions in place, traffic had backed up 6km to Clondrinagh on the outskirts of Limerick City and before long, as far as the toll booths near the Limerick Tunnel.
The northbound bore of the tunnel was eventually closed, further adding to the traffic chaos.
A line of trucks and buses was left stranded on the dual carriageway for several hours as they were too big to travel the diversionary route.
Clare County Council senior engineer Tom Tiernan said: "This wasn't your usual diesel. It was a heavier substance. Our first efforts normally successfully clear a spillage, but not in this case.
"We had to lay down chemicals to disperse the spill and then clear that residue away before laying down a thin layer of grit. It was certainly more difficult to deal with that your usual spillage."
Fire crews and council staff spent 10 hours trying to clear the route but by midnight, only one lane could be reopened.
The clean-up operation resumed early on Saturday, lasting for a further six hours, before the road was declared safe.
"It's difficult to put an actual figure on the cost of this clean-up operation because it was very extensive and much more difficult to deal with than a normal spillage.
"This week we will be looking at the incident and we'll have a better idea then of how much it cost," Mr Tiernan added.
"We will continue to investigate and track down the source, with a view to recouping the cost of the clean-up."
The leak, now believed to have been hydraulic fluid from a bus, stretched up to 3km along the Limerick to Shannon route.
Several people, including a pregnant woman, had lucky escapes when their cars skidded out of control on the greasy surface. There were six separate collisions.