UP TO 31,500 litres of sulphuric acid might have leaked from a freight train that derailed about 20km east of Julia Creek, near Mt Isa, in north-west Queensland.
Police issued a warning yesterday saying assessments showed one of the carriages had likely ruptured and it was possible up to 31,5000 litres of acid had leaked out.
The train was transporting about 819,000 litres of sulphuric acid - not the 200,000 originally reported - when it derailed on Sunday.
A 2km exclusion zone is still in place.
Minister for Transport and the Commonwealth Games
The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Independent investigation launched for Julia Creek derailment
The Queensland Government's rail safety regulator has engaged the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to conduct an independent investigation on its behalf into the train derailment east of Julia Creek on Sunday, 27 December.
Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the safety of Queensland's rail network and operations was top priority, which is why the Australian Transport Safety Bureau had been engaged early on.
"The Queensland Government is committed to providing a safe, reliable rail network throughout the state, not only for passengers and the community but also for rail operators," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"While it is too soon to speculate on the cause of the derailment, by engaging the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in these early stages, we can ensure the incident is thoroughly investigated and that we receive the best advice in a timely manner.
"The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will work closely with the relevant authorities to look into all aspects of the incident, and a preliminary report will be provide by the end of February with a full report and recommendations due before September, 2016."
Queensland Rail safety investigators will also attend the site to commence investigations as soon as it is safe to do so and will provide an interim report to the rail safety regulator.
Mr Hinchliffe said that while access to the site was challenging due to the floodwaters, investigators would start gathering information and contact relevant parties involved.
"Police currently have in place a two kilometre exclusion zone around the incident site, where one locomotive and 26 wagons derailed," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"Police and authorities have had teams physically working on site commencing preliminary work this afternoon.
"Further details about the extent of damage to the infrastructure and the timeframes for the track reopening will be available once the recovery crew has access to site."
Freight trains and the Inlander passenger service on the Mount Isa line continue to be impacted as a result of the incident.