TANKER UPDATE: ALL lanes of I-40 now open

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY (WVLT) – All eastbound and westbound lanes of an 80 mile stretch of Interstate 40 are now back open, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Late Sunday night, the mandatory evacuation of nearly 160 homes and businesses near the tanker accident scene was lifted. At the same time, a five mile stretch of HWY 70 between Ozone and Crab Orchard was reopened.

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY (WVLT) – Emergency management officials announced late Sunday evening that all 3,200 gallons of Titanium Tetrachloride had been pumped out of the tanker truck that crashed the previous afternoon on Interstate 40 near Crab Orchard

After nearly a full day of waiting for weather conditions to improve, HAZMAT crews began the process of pumping the toxic chemical into a new tanker. It took about two and a half hours to complete the process. Shortly after, a wrecker was used to haul the damaged tanker away.

Officials said they expected to reopen the five mile stretch of HWY 70 between Ozone and Crab Orchard sometime before 11:00 PM. The 80 mile stretch of I-40 between the I-75 junction and Cookeville was expected to reopen around midnight.

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY (WVLT) -- Emergency officials have announced that crews are standing by to begin the process of transferring 3,200 gallons of a toxic chemical into a new tanker truck.

The announcement came during the 1:00 PM news conference in Crab Orchard, just outside the two mile evacuation radius. HEPACO is on the scene and organizing the unloading process. Crews have already dug a trench around the wrecked tanker in case it begins to leak during the transfer, and if all goes well they hope to have all the work done and the interstate reopened by around 6:00 PM.

Volunteer TV meteorologist Scott Blalock has observed developing rain showers west of the accident scene. There remains some concern that if it rains before a system of pipes is set up during the transfer process, the situation could grow even more dangerous. The new tanker was brought in overnight from New Jersey. Once it has completed the transfer, it will haul to chemicals off to a safe location.

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY (WVLT) – A specially designed tanker arrived just before 7:30 AM on Sunday to help contain the toxic chemical emergency on I-40.

According to Cumberland County emergency management officials, HAZMAT crews will transfer all 3,200 gallons of Titanium Tetrachloride to the new tanker as soon as it stops raining. The material data safety sheet for the chemical indicates it is highly reactive with water, and could produce a cloud of Hydrochloric Acid if the two were to be exposed to each other.

Once the off-loading is complete, the new tanker will haul the chemical to a safe location. Until that happens, I-40 will remain closed in both directions.

Emergency management officials have called a news conference for 1:00 PM EST.

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY (WVLT) -- Interstate 40 through Cumberland County remains close in both directions, with no word on when it might reopen.

According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, a tanker hauling 3,200 gallons of Titanium Tetrachloride ran off the road near Crab Orchard, at the 331 mile marker, just after 2:30 PM on Saturday. TEMA officials said the chemical is a dangerous material that is flammable, corrosive and toxic to breath.

Cumberland County EMA officials said four to five other vehicles were involved in the crash, and nine people had to be taken to local hospitals. Their conditions have not been released.

Over the next few hours, reports from the scene indicated the chemical may be leaking from the tanker.

Late Saturday night, officials issued a mandatory evacuation in a two mile radius of the accident scene. The decision was made based on a weather front approaching Cumberland County that contained rain. According to emergency crews, when Titanium Tetrachloride reacts with water it creates Hydrochloric Acid.

Residents falling under the evacuation were contacted by reverse 911 calls, and rounded up by door to door checks. They have all been taken to emergency shelters set up at First Baptist Church on Peavine Road, the Church of the Latter Day Saints on 320 Genesis Road and Believer’s Fellowship off exit 317.

WNOX-FM, Volunteer TV’s radio partner, talked to Cumberland County officials who said the nearest truck that can off-load the chemicals was located in New Jersey. That would mean the road could be tied up until the special truck could arrive.

Early Sunday morning the Tennessee Department of Transportation began mobilizing to divert I-40 traffic headed west for Nashville onto I-75, through Chattanooga and then north on I-24. Before the diversion, all traffic had been rerouted onto HWY 70.

Traffic headed east on I-40 from Nashville to Knoxville was then diverted onto HWY 111 at the 288 mile marker near Cookeville.

Stay with Volunteer TV News and VolunteerTV.com for the latest on this developing story.

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  • by Logic on Nov 10, 2010 at 08:15 PM
    Titanium tetrachloride - an important intermediate in the production of titanium metal and the pigment titanium dioxide. taken from wikipedia
  • by Gena Location: Sevierville on Jul 15, 2008 at 12:34 PM
    Titanium tetrachloride what was this chemical going to be used for is what i would like to know why would someone even need to make something this dangerous?
  • by Doug Location: New York on Jul 14, 2008 at 10:33 PM
    What a nightmare. We got directed off of I-40 sometime after 10:00 saturday night onto I-70. After stop and go traffic for quite a while, traffic finally came to a standstill. I ran to the front of traffic to find an overturned tractor-trailer. The car told me he got off the interstate at 6:00. I-70 was blocked by an overturned tractor trailer, and police were still sending people there?
  • by Greg Location: Memphis TN on Jul 14, 2008 at 03:11 PM
    We encountered the road closure at 3:00 pm on Saturday. Waited for 40-45 minutes and then spoke with a trucker who relayed that I-40 was closed due to the tanker and a concern about the cargo. We made a u-turn through the median and took exit 338 to route 70 over to Crab Orchard. We saw deputies had blocked the eastbound lanes diverting traffic off of I-40 at Crab Orchard. Apparently no police were doing the same for the westbound travelers even several hours later because of a story I heard this morning of another traveler who came upon the stoppage at 7:00 pm Saturday night. I imagine some truckers and the drivers of other large vehicles had quite an unfortunate delay because of the wreck.
  • by Meg Location: Lenior CIty on Jul 14, 2008 at 11:27 AM
    I was heading East on I-40 around 6:00PM Central Time on Saturday. About a mile before traffic stopped there was a led sign saying "traffic ahead". That's it. And then I hit the stand still traffic. No radio stations were reporting what happened and the few police cars I saw just drove by on the right shoulder giving no information. After waiting in traffic an hour I finally was able to creep to a turn around and go back west, get off at the Peavine Road exit and use my GPS to take country back roads back East and hit the interstate about 20 miles down. Yikes for everybody who was stuck there well into the AM. I feel like this situation and alternate routes should have been better reported by radio stations and especially the police. If it had rained and swpet the hydrochloric acid towards those stuck on the interstate, they would have been sitting ducks. Just a terrible situation.
  • by Jim Location: Kingston on Jul 13, 2008 at 04:20 PM
    We were left on Hwy 70 between exit 329 and Westel Rd from Midnight to 3:00am with all cars and trucks completely stopped. We then heard on the radio station that there was a rain storm coming and this could cause the tanker to blow and we were in the danger zone. We were able to get our truck turned around and found a side street out of the area. What we want to know is where were the troopers, the deputies, the cops? They were not on Hwy 70 where we were left standed. Why were they not there to get the cars moving and out of there for 3 hours? We hope the drivers in the 18 wheelers and large Rvs got out okay because they couldn't turn around on the narrow road.
  • by Kristina Location: Ozone Tn on Jul 13, 2008 at 03:43 PM
    I really like how the news is keeping us up to date on the truck wreck. I live with in 5 miles of the wreck and was not notified until a friend of mine sent me a message on my phone telling me about it and the sherrifs office was not giving any info...We are now isolated and know nothing about whats going on. Giving a few updates would be appreciated to the communities surrounding the wreck. I do however appreciate the service they are doing to protect us but we need to know info also.


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