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Fuel truck fire in Port Tunnel sparks concern among hauliers

ROAD hauliers last night expressed serious concern about fuel trucks using Dublin's Port Tunnel after an incident involving an aviation fuel truck yesterday.

Emergency services were alerted after the lorry was spotted with smoke pouring from the cab as it emerged from the 4.5km long tunnel early yesterday.

The alarm was raised after high tech sensors in the tunnel picked up "extreme" smoke emissions from the truck about 90 metres from the northern exit as the vehicle headed towards the M1.

A patrol car used by the tunnel operator then spotted smoke and flames coming from the cab of the lorry after it emerged from the tunnel.

Last night the National Roads Authority said an investigation would be carried out but all the safety protocols had operatedcorrectly and the incident was not as significant as was originally thought by officials.

Shortly after 7am, sensors inside the twin-bore tunnel about 90m from its northern exit picked up extreme emissions from the fuel truck as it headed towards the M1 motorway.

Within minutes, this was confirmed by a tunnel patrol and by CCTV cameras. As Dublin Fire Brigade was alerted, the truck driver pulled over onto the breakdown lane about a kilometre away from the tunnel mouth, but by the time three fire units had arrived on the scene at 7.25am, the danger was over and no further assistance was required.

'This is the elephant sitting in the

corner everyone

is choosing

to ignore'

An NRA spokesman said the tunnel was equipped with "high end" vigilance technology to avoid serious incidents.

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But the Irish Road Haulage Association said allowing fuel trucks to use the port tunnel was an "act of folly".

IRHA president Jimmy Quinn said there was widespread concern in the industry about fuel trucks being allowed use the tunnel.

"This is the elephant sitting in the corner everyone is choosing to ignore," he warned.

"I don't care how quickly response teams can get there. I only have to be right once to show what I am saying is right."

However, Conor Faughnan of the Automobile Association said there was no reason why fuel trucks should not use the port tunnel. The tunnel had state-of-the-art safety features with cross-over points at regular intervals and an extensive ventilation system.

"I have had tours of the tunnel and have seen their safety measures. Their procedures are very impressive. If an aviation fuel truck springs a leak, it will be a seriously hazardous incident no matter where it occurs, be it on the main road or in the tunnel.

"There is no reason why the tunnel should not be able to handle an incident like that. I suggest there is really no cause for alarm.

"In the worse case scenario of a fire this tunnel is able to cope with that," said Mr Faughnan.

Fergus Black

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