M56 re-opens following incidents on 20 October Date published: 21st October 2015 5.23am

M56 now reopen following incidents.

Emergency services have worked through the night dealing with two serious incidents on the M56. 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.

The initial incident was extremely complex and involved an overturned HGV tanker carrying hazardous chemicals, which leaked onto the carriageway.

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.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue service followed a number of required procedures when dealing with spillages of this nature. These processes 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 worked with Highways England to free traffic trapped in the tailbacks as quickly as possible.

Specialist equipment was required at the site both to enabled 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.

To add to the complexity of this incident, a collision, resulting in serious injuries, occurred on the M56 westbound in close proximity to the ongoing chemical incident.

The collision involved a car transporter and a car, and resulted in a 24-year old man, a 26-year-old man and a 1-year-old boy being taken to hospital; they are described as being in a stable condition.

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.