Fortunate escape from acid spill

By Rebecca Malcolm

Two men have been described as "bloody lucky" to escape without serious injury when a drum of sulphuric acid fell from a truck and split open, spraying the highly corrosive acid over them.

A Rotorua-based Mainfreight truck driver and a worker at Opotiki Tyre Services, where the incident happened, were sprayed with the 98 per cent concentrate acid.

Opotiki Tyre Services owner Steve Nelson said the incident happened on Tuesday afternoon when the truck driver unclipped the curtain of his truck and a 200 litre drum containing the acid fell out and split. It is understood about six litres spilled.

He said the acid sprayed a worker and the driver, but missed their eyes and both escaped without serious injury.

"It was just an accident. It could have happened anywhere."

Mr Nelson said staff reacted quickly and hosed down the two men, washing them down in a water trough used to check tyres.

He said his staff member was taken to hospital. Mr Nelson said he didn't know if the truck driver received medical treatment.

"I think he was more worried about getting his freight delivered."

Mr Nelson said he was "rapt" with the way the boys dealt with the situation. Everyone from his staff to those who responded from the Fire Service, district council and other contractors did an awesome job, he said.

His worker suffered "a couple of little skin blisters" and was back at work yesterday.

A Mainfreight spokesman declined to comment.

The Opotiki Fire Service attended as well as a hazardous materials unit from Greerton.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is investigating the incident.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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