Overturned tanker on M56 Hapsford

20/10/2015 - 15:52

M56 eastbound between junctions 12 and 14

Two fire engines from Ellesmere Port, one from Frodsham, one from Runcorn


Fire and rescue crews are at the scene of a road traffic collision involving a tanker which has overturned. Nobody is trapped in the vehicle. A cordon has been set up while emergency crews deal with the incident.

Drivers are advised to avoid the area as the motorway has been fully closed.

UPDATE 16:36

The motorway is fully closed between junctions 14 (Hapsford) and 11 (Daresbury). Severe delays are expected and motorists are advised to find alternative routes.This incident will be updated when more information is available.

UPDATE 17:25

The incident involves a HGV tanker which has overturned on the eastbound carriageway between junctions 12 and 14. We are currently awaiting confirmation of the substance the tanker was carrying.

As a result of the incident the M56 is currently closed in both directions between junctions 11 and 14.

A 1,800m cordon has been set up as a precautionary measure around the incidents, and residents in the Helsby, Hapsford, Frodsham and Elton are advised to stay indoors with their windows and doors closed.

Motorist who are caught in the tailbacks are advised to turn off their air conditioning ventilation system and close their windows

In addition to the M56 the Chester to Manchester via Warrington train line is also closed.

The closures are expected to remain closed for several hours and motorists are advised to avoid the area.

The driver of the tanker is believed to have suffered minor injuries.

UPDATE 19:25

Fire crews and are still at the scene of the incident and will remain there for some time.

UPDATE: 19:30

Cheshire Fire & Rescue is continuing to work with Cheshire Police, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Public Health England and North West Ambulance Services at the scene of a major incident on the M56 in Cheshire.

It has now been confirmed that the tanker was carrying a hazardous, but non-explosive, substance, a significant quantity of which has leaked out onto the carriageway.

As a result of the incident the M56 remains closed in both directions between junctions 11, Daresbury, and 14, Hapsford.

The cordon in place around the scene of the incident has now been reduced to 400m, with residents in the Plover Lane area of Helsby advised to stay indoors with their windows and doors closed at this time.

Motorist who are within view of the tanker are advised to turn off their air conditioning ventilation system and close their windows.

Highways England will be patrolling the tailbacks to help anyone who is in need of assistance.

The train line through Helsby has now reopened, although delays are expected on services between Runcorn, Chester and Liverpool.

The closures are expected to remain in place for several hours.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area.

There are believed to have been a small number of casualties, they are all being treated by North West Ambulance Service.

UPDATE: 20:45

The Service has reduced the number of fire engines at the scene down to four but crews are continuing to work alongside emergency services colleagues to resolve the incident.  

UPDATE:  08:00 on 21/10/15

Emergency services have worked through the night dealing with this incident. This has involved staff from Cheshire Police, Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service, North West Ambulance Service, North West Motorway Policing Group, Cheshire West and Chester, Highways England and the Environment Agency.

Due to the nature of the tanker contents it took some time to establish the exact impact the chemicals could have on both people and the environment.

Spillages of this nature are extremely complex and processes and procedures have to be followed to ensure the safety of the public and the emergency services staff who are required to respond to the immediate incident.

As a precautionary measure, within the immediate area of the overturned tanker, officers evacuated a number of drivers from their vehicles. They were escorted to a Hapsford Services where Cheshire West and Chester Council had located their Emergency Shelter provision.

Residents in the area near to the incident were advised to take shelter and keep their doors and windows shut, as a precautionary measure until the emergency services were able to establish if there was any risk to public health.

There were eight casualties as a result of the incident. Five were treated by North West Ambulance Service at Hapsford Services and three were taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital, they have all since been released.

Throughout the evening the emergency services worked to minimise risk to the public, Cheshire Police and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service worked with Highways England to free traffic trapped in the tailbacks as quickly as possible.

Specialist equipment was required at the site both to enable the removal of the central reservation barriers and facilitate the movement of the traffic from the tailbacks, and to get the required agencies to the site to deal with the spillage and the damage on the road surface. All of this was challenging due to the congestion on the road network.

The remaining chemicals were transferred from the overturned tanker and transported off site, specialist vehicle recovery contractors then removed the tanker from the scene which allowed Highways England to repair the carriageway.

This incident occurred during rush hour traffic and the closure of the motorway displaced traffic onto minor routes across Cheshire, which caused major congestion in the surrounding area.  To alleviate the displaced traffic officers worked at a number of key junctions.

This type of incident requires many resources from the different agencies, all working together, but by its very nature takes time. We would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the public affected for their patience and support throughout the night.

Whilst we understand that it is frustrating to both residents in the area and to motorists using the road network, the emergency services work hard to minimise the disruption caused by incidents of this nature and to get people where they need to be safely and as quickly as possible.

However, as with all major incidents of this nature our main priority throughout has been the safety of the public and dealing with those injured as a consequence of the ongoing incidents.


The chemical involved in this incident was an organic phosphate called Hydrogen Sulphide Scavenger, trade name Scavtreat 7103.

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Last updated: Wednesday 21 October 2015