Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau
A Zambia-bound truck laden with 35 tonnes of sulphur overturned and caught fire at the 311km peg along the Harare-Chirundu Highway, near Tsetse checkpoint in Hurungwe District with preliminary investigations indicating that the truck was travelling outside the stipulated times, and failed to report the incident.
According to the Environmental Management Authority, transporters of potentially hazardous substances or minerals that can pollute the environment must adhere to the stipulated travelling times of 4am to 8pm.
Although no fatalities were recorded, there was a fire outbreak which originated from the accident that engulfed the whole area while plumes of toxic smoke containing sulphur compounds travelled as far as Chirundu Border Post.
The horse and first trailer belonging Top Hisheen Company were completely burnt in the incident. The Environmental Management Agency investigations are still in progress.
“The Environmental Management Agency is working closely with the transporter (Top Hisheen) to extinguish the fire and commence the spillage clean up exercise.
“Section 73 of the Environmental Management Act prohibits the discharge of hazardous substances into the environment and places the responsibility of rehabilitating and restoring the affected area on the polluter.
“Our preliminary investigations indicate that the truck was travelling outside the stipulated times, and failed to report the incident to the Agency within the shortest period of time as required.
“Timely reporting of spillages ensures swift response to minimise environmental pollution as well as start rescue efforts,” said EMA.
Transporters and the motoring public must exercise caution when approaching such accident scenes as the surface maybe slippery and visibility obscured.
They were also encouraged to orally notify EMA, the police and the Civil Protection Unit and District Development Coordinator in the area where the accidental spillage occurred.