Highways England has revealed the strangest items ever spilled on its roads – from powdered cement to 6,000 chickens.
From animal blood to argon, toilet roll to toxic waste, wine to washing up liquid – highways teams have faced many mammoth challenges to clear up after motorway incidents.
The unexpected nature of motorway incidents means it can be hard to plan for what may happen on any given day. Over the past few years there have been numerous spills, ranging from the strange to the dangerous.
In every case, highways teams have worked quickly and under pressure to remove debris, clean the road, and fix damage before safely reopening the carriageway to drivers.
In some cases, thousands of items had to be picked up by hand after spreading across several lanes of the motorway.
To help drivers understand the challenges of safely clearing up after an incident, Highways England has compiled a list of the strangest spills on England’s motorways:
Raw human sewage
Hundreds of tins of baked beans
20 tonnes of Marmite
Thousands of lager cans
10 tonnes of salmon
Melamine formaldehyde resin and phosphoric acid
Refrigerated liquid oxygen
Melanie Clarke, director of customer operations at Highways England, explained: “Our roads are among the safest in the world, and safety is our number one priority.
“Our role is to ensure we clear incidents quickly, and keep traffic moving to minimise delays. We work closely with the emergency services, in challenging circumstances, to try to keep drivers moving after an incident.
“We know drivers get frustrated when their journeys are disrupted but we do all we can to clean the road quickly after an incident – and it’s often much more complicated than simply moving the vehicles off the road to reopen it. That’s why it can often take longer for us to safely reopen roads when a potentially dangerous substance is spilled in an incident.
“Our teams expect the unexpected, but of course, when you’re dealing with ten tonnes of salmon, dangerous toxic chemicals, or emulsion paint, the clean-up operation is somewhat complicated. Despite having to deal with some unusual shed loads, everyday items actually pose the biggest challenges for Highways England’s clean-up teams.”