TRAFFIC was brought to a standstill on the Monash after highly flammable aviation fuel spilled from a truck, forcing authorities to shut down Melbourne’s busiest freeway today.
The freeway was closed between Heatherton and Stud roads, Endeavour Hills, from 11.30am to 3pm after a 200 litre drum leaked fuel onto a lane near the Heatherton Rd overpass.
CFA operations officer Greg Christison said a passing motorist warned the truck driver before authorities were alerted.
“Iit was escalated to having 40 firefighters on the scene and working with some very specialised gear,” he said.
“After the good work of our firefighters we were able to isolate the chemicals and resolve the incident quite quickly prior to the peak hour traffic.
“They’ve done a terrific job.”
VicRoads road operations director Dean Zabrieszach said heavy delays were expected in the wake of the reopening.
“The freeway closure was this afternoon extended from Heatherton Road to Belgrave-Hallam Road to ease congestion with traffic merging onto the South Gippsland Freeway,” he said.
“Inbound traffic on the South Gippsland Freeway was also diverted onto the Princes Highway.
“We have been on site with emergency services since late morning clearing the chemical spill, and we thank motorists for their patience.
“Although the freeway is now open, drivers need to be prepared for ongoing delays.
“We do encourage drivers to seek alternative routes, or wait until later in the afternoon before they decide to take the Monash Freeway.”
CFA spokesman Gerard Scholten said authorities took every precaution possible before the freeway was reopened to traffic.
The spill was stabilised and determined to be safe at 2.30pm.
Victoria Police had earlier issued an alert urging residents to stay indoors.
A Channel 9 helicopter pilot told 3AW that he could see traffic banked back for 2 to 3km.
The pilot said crews assessing the spill were using full breathing apparatus.