Major incidents:
The clean-up

The initial excitement has now died down. Emergency services are on site (the fire service have probably already left) and things are looking a lot better (to those dealing with the incident at least). The road has been closed, trapped traffic is now being freed, and the paint isn't tracking further up the road. The contamination has been contained within a small area, and the Environment Agency are on their way to the site to give further advice and to bring stoppers in case they are there before the Term Maintenance Contractor crew arrive with theirs.

Traffic management and diversion signs are en-route to the scene, as are gully emptiers, mechanical sweepers and specialised plant. Once the closure is in place this will release Police Officers to be redeployed elsewhere. Remote from the scene, the Term Maintenance Contractor staff are running around trying to make all this happen.

The surfacing crew and supervisory staff are going to attend site tonight, and we now know where the drainage outfalls go to, and have taken the necessary actions to prevent it going any further. Further protection for the verges etc and "no road markings" signs are en-route too. Recovery are on site and are liasing with Client Supervisor and Police as to their requirements. Client office has a full update, and are notifying the HA of what has happened.

Other people and their problems

Things now happen in a far more controlled manner, and all comings and goings are being recorded. Staff are now aware that the queues are in excess of ten miles, so as well as dealing with the incident itself we have to deal with our "customers". Nowadays we have to consider welfare needs of the motorists, so in hot conditions, the local authority are contacted who can ship in bottled water for distribution to the trapped motorists. These have to be brought to designated point and handed out to frustrated motorists. Consideration can also be given to closing the offside lane of the opposite carriageway to drive along this and hand out water to the trapped motorists. There are a raft of procedures to be followed in the event of a major incident which includes escape routes, emergency temporary accommodation etc.

At the scene and point of closure things are continually changing, hopefully for the better, and times of arrival and departure must all be recorded to enable the answering of questions after the event. People will claim there were no diversions when they went through etc, and so we will have times when closures and diversions were fully established. All arriving on site have to be logged in, warned of the dangers on site, told what to do, where to do it, and who to speak to before doing it.

For those removing the contaminated material, Police escorts must be arranged for as they need to leave site to tip and return. Speed is of the essence, as these closures harm the economy and are a major disruption to many on the road, and impact greatly on the surrounding area.

About now the Environment Agency arrive on site and want all the drainage systems flushing and the contaminated water removed from site. To complicate things further (with good reason), the Environment Agency will then announce that the area is a "zone 1 groundwater area", and as such, all the contaminated French drain has to be replaced. Not what you want to hear when you're up to you eyes in it already. So, Term Maintenance Contractor Supervisor/Agent must be contacted again to get an excavator to site as soon as possible to excavate 200 cubic metres of stone and 200m of pipes, and then replace it all.

In this section

What's new

Go west! New Ringways pages are here

A new set of Ringways pages are now online, looking at unbuilt motorways and road projects west of London.

No smoke without ire

London's Ultra Low Emission Zone has just expanded to cover the whole inner city, and across the UK, other cities are implementing their own Clean Air Zones. Is this the future?

Devon help us

Road signs are colour coded for different types of road, but in Devon there are more colours than anywhere else. What do Devon's colourful signs mean?

Have you seen...

Mickleham Bends

Once it was one of the UK's most dangerous roads — just what is so special about a bit of dual carriageway in Surrey?