Charleville Accident
Charleville Accident

Outback blast: State targets truckies in $500k claim

The owner of a road train involved in a fiery crash that triggered the largest explosion in Australian transportation history has been slapped with claims it pay the $527,906 bill to replace two fire trucks and repair a police car.

The state, which represents the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and the Queensland Police Service, has sued Kalari Pty Ltd, the Melbourne-based trucking company that owned the prime mover that exploded after crashing while hauling two semi-trailers and a dolly trailer filled with 53 tonnes of dangerous ammonium ­nitrate near Charleville on September 5, 2014.

The explosive ammonium nitrate was on its way to a mine in South Australia, where it was to be used to make bulk explosives.

In its District Court civil claim, the QFES alleges the truck, a Kenworth prime mover driven by Tony Eden, caused $392,101 in damage to the emergency vehicles when it hit a guard rail on an approach to a bridge on the Mitchell Highway between Charleville and Cunnamulla, rolled and exploded about 9pm.

No one was killed, but eight people were injured - some seriously - and it was the second, larger explosion which caused the major damage.

The second explosion was estimated to be the equivalent of detonating 15 tonnes of TNT, larger than any US non-­nuclear weapon used in combat.

It burned so hot that aluminium and copper at the site melted, and the explosion measured 2.1 on the Richter scale.

QFES's total claim of $527,906 includes $392,101 to replace two fire trucks and repair the police car plus $132,103 in interest dating back to 2014.

 

The second fire truck on the scene. Picture: Peter Wallis
The second fire truck on the scene. Picture: Peter Wallis

One fire truck, the first on the scene at 10.02pm, was valued at $349,647 before it was written off, and the second truck was worth $37,019 before it was irreparably damaged.

The police car required repairs and towing worth $6478.

 

The State Government alleges Mr Eden - a trucking veteran of 17 years - negligently failed to take care to foresee and avoid the crash, and failed to keep a look out to see the bridge and avoid the crash, and failed to ensure he wasn't fatigued while driving.

Damage to a road bridge near Charleville after an ammonia nitrate explosion. Picture: Peter Wallis
Damage to a road bridge near Charleville after an ammonia nitrate explosion. Picture: Peter Wallis

The state alleges Mr Eden started work between 6am and 7am that day and was still driving after 8.45pm when the crash occurred.

The state also alleges Kalari Pty Ltd negligently failed to train Mr Eden in safe driving including how to respond to a fire in his truck, and to supervise Mr Eden to ensure his fatigue training was current.

The state alleges Kalari knew Mr Eden had twice previously driven while fatigued.

Kalari has not filed a defence to the claims, and no hearing date has been set.

Originally published as Outback blast: State targets truckies in $500k claim

A firetruck at the scene of the explosion. Picture: Peter Wallis
A firetruck at the scene of the explosion. Picture: Peter Wallis

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