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Close call after truck crash near river

Friday 9 Nov 2012 5:24 p.m.

By Adam Hollingworth

For the second time in 24 hours a truck has crashed into a river and spilled contents that could have damaged the environment, but Environment Waikato is confident the river won't be compromised.

The crash, which occurred this morning, could have been a lot worse - if the tanker hadn't hooked up against a tree, much more of a sticky sweet dairy product called evaporated whey permeate would have ended up in the river.

“Fortunately the way the truck and tanker have ended up most of the load has been contained,” says senior resource officer with Waikato Regional Council Mark Row.

Firefighters cut free the driver, who is now in hospital recovering from injuries, and Environment Waikato says only about 2,000 litres of whey ended up in the river - the equivalent of ten 44-gallon drums.

Experts say that won't cause any damage.

“What's ended up in the river tends to just sink, and we've just seen small amounts of it on the river bed and we expect that the effects of that will be less than minor,” says Mr Row.

The crash comes a day after Environment Waikato staff left the scene of another truck crash on the Desert R after satisfying themselves the cleanup there was under control.

A crane was removing the damaged tanker in three sections late this afternoon, forcing sporadic closures of State Highway 3.

Scientists will continue to monitor the river over the coming hours.

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