Highway reopens 8 hours after chicken truck crash
Update 4pm: NORTH Coast Local Land Services have denied claims that council workers and untrained people were picking up chickens with their bare hands after this morning's chicken truck crash.
Animal activists said the crash scene was being "poorly handled".
But district vet, Phillip Kemsley, said the chicken removal was professionally managed.
"The staff that are working here are chicken catchers that's … their job," he said.
He said it would have been hazardous to allow concerned members of the public to help out with the clean up given the extent of the wreckage and the operation of heavy machinery.
The truck was operated by Queensland-based poultry producer, Darawalla Group. A spokesman for the company said it has "a very good safety record" with Monday's crash the first in at least a decade.
Dr Kemsley said about half of the chickens survived the incident with the majority of those being freighted to a Brisbane abattoir. He said an animal welfare assessment would be undertaken after the incident.
The road has now fully reopened more than eight hours after the crash.
Update 1.45pm: POLICE expect the Bruxner Highway at Goonellabah will fully reopen in about an hour as efforts to recover nearly 6000 chickens from a truck that rolled onto the roadway early today near completion.
North Coast Local Land Services district veterinarian Phillip Kemsley said crews were about halfway through the removal of the birds from the crash scene near James Rd.
Dr Kemsley said chickens that were killed in the crash or euthanased have been taken to a waste facility while those in a healthy condition have been trucked to an abattoir in Brisbane, where the b-double was originally headed.
Another lot of chickens remain trapped in crates, he said. They have been taken to a farm at Lismore to be removed from the damaged crates and their health assessed.
Dr Kemsley said at this stage he cannot determine exact numbers of birds killed and alive.
Update 12.15pm: CLOSE to 6000 chickens have been confirmed to be on board a B-double truck that rolled on the Bruxner Highway at Goonellabah.
North Coast Local Land Services are on scene near James Rd working with emergency services to remove the livestock from the truck, which was travelling to an abattoir in Brisbane from a farm near Kyogle.
District veterinarian, Phillip Kemsley said there were "just shy of 6000 birds" which crews have divided into three categories: alive, dead and those that need to be euthanised.
He said about 380 chickens have been recovered alive so far.
A crane and a forklift are being used to remove crates of chickens from the truck.
Dr Kemsley said the safety of those recovering the chickens was central to the on-going operation.
"Human health and safety is paramount in this situation we've also got to balance that against animal welfare so that's the challenge that you face with truck rollovers. And this site is no different," Dr Kemsley said.
"We need to balance all of those factors, first and foremost human safety."
The warning comes after three people breached the taped off crash scene earlier this morning to "rescue" an injured chicken.
Goonellabah resident, Terese McCelland, saw a woman running off with the chicken and said the woman was screaming "this is what happens to chooks in cages".
Emergency services escorted the women back to the site where the chicken was returned.
Dr Kemsley sympathised with those concerned about the animals and he said the local services was dedicated the safe removal of the creatures.
"We are doing all that we can in terms of animal welfare but that needs to be balanced without putting staff at risk as well but we just can't have people putting themselves at a high risk of injury or death," he said.
Update 11.35am: THE Department of Primary Industries has confirmed that 6000 chickens were on board the truck, not 4000 as originally estimated.
Update 11.20am: ANIMAL welfare has become the priority of the clean up operation as efforts continue to remove thousands of chickens aboard a crashed truck.
Lismore Fire Station Commander Fraser Hindry said a district vet and Department of Primary Industries are on the scene at the Bruxner Highway bear James Rd, Goonellabah coordinating the removal of the livestock.
"We are in the process of removing the livestock from the vehicle as safely and as quickly we can to eliminate the suffering to the animals," Commander Hindry said.
"The district vet is supervising the removal and safe recovery of as many live animals as we can."
Now that truck has been tipped upright, authorities have begun to assess the condition of the chickens.
At this stage it is unknown how many chickens have been killed.
Commander Hindry said the road may be reopened by midday.
Update 10.25am: INCIDENT controller Fraser Hindry, commander at the Lismore Fire Station, says emergency services are focusing on the welfare of 4000 chickens after this morning's truck crash.
"We've had a truck roller, a B-double, containing 4000 chickens ... and we're in the process of recovering the live chickens and righting the truck and making sure there is no further Hazmat damage to the area," he said.
"It will be a fairly protracted incident just because we're looking at the welfare of the animals and doing things as safely as we can.
"It is a little bit of a difficult recovery given the size of the vehicle and its location."
The Department of Primary Industries is on the site.
Update 8.40am: 'A LENGTHY clean up process' is under way after a truck rollover on the Bruxner Highway at Goonellabah.
Transport authorities warn the roadway may be closed all morning.
A Transport Management Centre spokeswoman urged motorists to use the diversions are in place as emergency services work to reopen the road.
For westbound traffic, motorists can travel via Holland St, Oliver Ave and Kadina St with the eastbound diversion in reverse direction.
The diversion is not suitable for B-doubles.
Highway patrol was diverting traffic from the Holland St roundabout earlier this morning causing minor delays in the area.
Original story, 7.05am: A TRUCK has rolled over on the Bruxner Highway at Goonellabah this morning.
The B-double truck, which was carrying chickens, lost control near James Rd just before 7am.
The driver appears to have no serious injuries and is being assessed by paramedics.
He was seen walking after the crash, but paramedics placed a neck brace on him and prepared a stretcher.
The truck was heading east on the highway when it appears to have run into a ditch and rolled over.
There are number of yellow chicken crates that have fallen from the trucks, with dead and live chickens at the scene.
Some of the chickens are roaming around, and witnesses said the chickens appeared "unfazed" by the drama.
The truck driver is understood to be in shock.
Drivers are warning each other to avoid the area.
Emergency services are still at the scene and traffic is affected in both directions.
The crash looks unlikely to seriously affect morning commute times as police have set up a traffic diversion via nearby suburban streets.
Westbound diversions are via Holland St, Oliver Ave and Kadina St. Eastbound diversion is the reverse.
The diversions are not suitable for B-doubles.