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Diesel-spilling lorry leaves trail of destruction across Sussex A roads
8:28am Friday 19th October 2012 in News
A DIESEL spilling lorry caused traffic chaos this morning.
The A23 was closed for several hours while the A272, A24 and A280 were also affected.
The lorry shed 25 gallons of fuel as it made its way from Crawley to Angmering, leaving a trail of destruction.
Cars skidded off roads, went into lamp posts and bushes or spun as they hit the slick left behind by the vehicle.
The drama began at about 7.45am this morning when Sussex Police were called to an unusually high number of incidents of cars skidding on diesel.
The source of the accidents was found to be the lorry, which itself stopped on the A280 near Angmering after an accident involving a car skidding into a bush.
Inspector James Biggs from the Road Policing Unit said: "It appears the lorry had been leaking diesel from a faulty connector on its fuel tank. On its journey from the north of Sussex, we believe around 25 gallons were shed.
"Due to particularly dangerous conditions on the steep part of the A23 at Handcross Hill causing a number of vehicles to lose control, we made the decision to close the road southbound between Junction 11 of the M23 and the A272 slip road from around 8am.
"Highways Agency colleagues cleared and gritted the road, which was reopened at around 12.35pm.
"The Vehicle and Operators Services Agency (VOSA) has inspected the vehicle at the side of the road in Angmering and given it a Prohibition Order, which stops it being driven.
"Part of the A280 near Water Lane is closed while recovery is organised and diesel in the area is cleared."
The lorry's journey started in Chelmsford, but it is believed the problem with the fuel connector only started south of Crawley.
The vehicle headed southbound on the A23, onto the A272 westbound, then south down the A24, before joining the A280 at Findon. The driver noticed the problem and stopped on the A280 in Angmering near to Water Lane.
Insp Biggs added: "Fortunately no serious collisions were reported and no one sustained serious injuries, although there was considerable disruption on the roads.
"I'd like to thank drivers who took precautionary action by avoiding the affected areas and for the patience of those stuck in tailbacks while we worked with partners to make the roads safe."
The lorry is owned by the self-employed driver, rather than a company.
VOSA and Sussex Police have spoken to the driver and are continuing a joint investigation of any safety breaches or road traffic offences.
Incidents that are believed to have been linked to the spillage include:
- Calls from a number of drivers on the A23 at Handcross Hill from around 7.50am. Some had skidded and others were forced to stop at the side of the road. One car collided into the central reservation on Handcross Hill just before 8am. Another was reported as spinning on the road near to Warninglid around 8.05am.
- A collision on the slip road from the A23 to the A272 just after 8am, where a car left the road and collided with a lamp post. Other drivers reported skidding between this slip road and the roundabout where it joins the A272.
- A collision on the A280 at Water Lane, where a car left the road and hit a bush at around 8.50am.
- Reports received from bus operators of vehicles skidding, particularly on the A280 and southernmost part of the A24.
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