Kalari in court stoush over Charleville explosion costs

By: Rob McKay


Queensland pursues company and driver for millions

Kalari in court stoush over Charleville explosion costs
Damage following the explosion. Pic: TMR

 

Kalari’s battle with the Queensland government over repairs to infrastructure destroyed in a massive explosion four years ago is now in the state’s Supreme Court.

The September 5, 2014, incident, which saw a 52.8-tonne road train-load of ammonium nitrate ignite on the Mitchell Highway, destroyed the Angellala Creek Bridge and a section of road near Charleville.

Eight people including the Kalari truck driver, named as experienced driver Tony Eden who is also a party to the court proceedings, were injured in the incident, some seriously.

Post blast analysis estimated the size of the explosion equivalent to 10-15 tonnes of TNT and debris from the vehicle and other infrastructure was found up to 1km away from the site of the crash.


Read about the immediate aftermath of the huge explosion, here


The cost of reconstructing the bridge and forming a temporary side-road has been put at $7.9 million while rebuilding a nearby rail bridge is put at $3.9 million.

According to media reports in Queensland, the government alleges careless driving and fatigue led to the crash while Kalari is accused of failing to maintain its truck properly, leading it to catch fire.

The allegations are rejected by both accused parties, with Kalari stating a government report failed to support such positions.

A Department of Natural Resources and Mines report on the explosion says a police investigation could not determine the cause of the combination leaving the road.

"Witness accounts indicate the fire was large, consuming the prime mover and first trailer," it states.

"The fire burned for approximately one hour and twenty minutes prior to the explosion."

One of the key findings of the initial report was that the "vehicle was mechanically sound and regularly maintained".

Comment has been sought from Kalari’s parent company, Swire, and the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR).

"The State has started Supreme Court proceedings against Kalari Pty Ltd and Anthony Eden, a prime mover driver, to recover the cost required to repair, replace and rebuild Angellala Creek Bridge due to a truck crash and explosion in 2014," a TMR spokesperson tells ATN.

"As this matter is currently before the court, the department is unable to provide any further comment."

Swire also declines to comment for the same reason.

 

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