River escapes alcohol threat

A river has been given the all-clear by environmental investigators after a tanker carrying 30,000 litres of alcohol was involved in a collision nearby.

Firefighters had battled for hours to stop the 94% proof alcohol reaching the River Almond, in West Lothian, Scotland, on Friday.

About 4,000 litres of alcohol leaked from the tanker when it overturned and hit a fence following a collision with a van on the A71, near the North British Distillery, a few miles outside Edinburgh.

Officers from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SPEA) were called in by police to investigate whether the spillage, and the foam used by firefighters to contain it, had caused any damage to the local environment.

A SEPA spokeswoman told edie on Monday that the weekend weather had helped to prevent serious pollution, but officers would continue to monitor the river.

“Officers from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) were contacted by Lothian and Borders Police on Friday morning and asked to attend the site of a tanker crash at the North British Warehouse Distillery, West Calder,” she said.

“Our officers inspected the local watercourses and were satisfied that there did not appear to have been any serious pollution.

“Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service later advised that the foam used was biodegradable and virtually non-toxic to aquatic organisms, as it is based on a natural protein foaming agent.

“We were also advised that there was no leak from the fuel tank, although approximately 4,000 litres of ethanol escaped from the tanker.

“The heavy rain at the end of last week will have diluted any pollution that entered the burn, but our officers will be going out to check again in the near future.”

The 52-year-old van driver was seriously injured in the collision, while the tanker driver suffered minor injuries. Both were taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The A71 was closed in both directions throughout the day while firefighters battled the booze and SEPA officers and police investigated the scene.

Kate Martin

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