Kalari Pty Ltd, the Melbourne-based trucking company that owned the road train that exploded and destroyed the Angellala Bridge in September 2014, has been slapped with claims to pay the $11.8 million repair bill for damage to the road and railway.
It’s now known as the largest explosion in Australian transportation history after the prime mover crashed with two semi-trailers and a dolly trailer filled with 53 tonnes of dangerous ammonium nitrate at the site on September 5, 2014 Eight people were injured and the truck, two fire trucks, and a police car were destroyed in the second, larger explosion. No one was killed.
In its Supreme Court claim, Min Roads alleges the truck caused $7.9 million in damage Queensland Rail is also suing the trucking company and driver, Tony Eden for $3.9 million for the cost of rebuilding a railway bridge that collapsed in the explosion.
The State Government claim alleges Mr Eden caused the explosion by failing to drive with care and attention and by failing to stop, slow down or steer clear to avoid the guard rail. It further claims Mr Eden did not have at least one hour of rest from when he started work at 8am until when the truck crashed at 9pm, and that Kalari breached its duty of care by failing to maintain the truck, which likely caught alight from a mechanical fault.
Mr Eden claims his truck caught fire while he was driving along the highway and says he veered off the road to get the truck away from other vehicles, driving at night, and so he could get out of the cabin.
He claims he could not see the bridge for flames and smoke and did not know there was no hard shoulder on the side of the highway.
The state however alleges that a “reasonable and prudent driver” would not have steered a road train off the road when they couldn’t clearly see ahead.
Mr Eden and Kalari deny all the claims, arguing that the driver “felt fresh and not fatigued, after having a shower” at Charleville, and that investigations by a State Government department concluded that the road train was mechanically sound.
Mr Eden and Kalari argue that none of the reports by the Queensland Police Service, Workplace Health and Safety, or the Department of Natural Resources and Mines “make any adverse findings about Mr Eden’s compliance with fatigue laws during the journey” or against Kalari.
The two lawsuits are due back in court on January 16, the parties are due to go to mediation later this year.