EMERGENCY teams raced to Ambergate on Monday after a tanker crashed in to the bridge spilling its contents in to the River Derwent.
Staff from the Environment Agency and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue service rushed to the scene to try to limit the impact on the river.
And team members only found out later that their work was part of a simulation exercise called Exercise Rubber Duck.
The major pollution exercise started with the ‘crash’ on the Whatstandwell Bridge on the A6 and tested response times to stop pollution spreading through the water.
Environment Agency spokesman Sharon Robinson, said: “It was what we call a ‘no notice exercise.’
“Members of the teams didn’t know anything about it so we can really test their response to an incident as they would actually do it.”
For the purposes of the simulation, the tanker contained river water with green dye, but emergency teams were told to imagine it was acetic acid for one part of the operation and oil for another.
Incident response company Braemar Howells were involved in the operation.
The River Derwent is one of the cleanest stretches of water in the region and is home to a variety of wildlife and a large percentage of drinking water.
If oil were to get into the water, it would need to be re-oxygenated to help living things in the river survive.
Sharon said: “It is a very good river with very clean water. Teams would respond very quickly to an incident like this to minimise the impact on fish and wildlife.”
This is a very dangerous task as hydrogen peroxide is used and full protective clothing is needed.
The Environment Agency has an incident control room to ensure the closest response teams are called to the scenes.
Sharon added: “The exercise went very well. It’s important that this is done as quickly as possible so that the pollution doesn’t spread too far.”