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TDOT: I-40 back open in Cocke Co. after tractor-trailer carrying hazardous materials overturns

The Tennessee Department of Transportation said that this incident is being treated as a hazmat situation.

COCKE COUNTY, Tenn. — Both directions were previously closed. At around 5:45 p.m. TDOT said that eastbound lanes were back open, but I-40 West was still closed. By 6:30 p.m. they said the tanker had been removed from the westbound lanes and expected the highway to reopen soon.

By around 7:46 p.m. a spokesperson said all lanes were back open.

TDOT said that this incident was being treated as a hazmat situation and traffic was being diverted. Westbound traffic could get off at Exit 432 and return onto the highway at Exit 424.

TDOT said that wreckers were in place at around 4 p.m. and were starting to flip the tractor-trailer back upright. They said both directions would stay closed until the tractor-trailer was back upright.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said the tractor-trailer was driven by a 52-year-old man from Douglasville, Georgia. According to a report, Max Roque was injured and he will also face a charge for "failure to exercise due care."

They said he was driving west on I-40 and lost control while going around a curve. They said he veered across the left lane and went onto the left side of the road before hitting a cable barrier and sharply turning to the right.

They said the tractor-trailer then rolled over onto the driver's side before stopping, blocking all lanes of I-40 West. They said it was hauling hazardous materials and in their report, they said materials had leaked.

However, Joe Esway, the Cocke County EMA Director, said no leaks were reported. He said a hazmat team was assessing the crash by taking temperature readings, air samples and photographs while also looking for leaks.

He said he did not have an estimate as to how long it could take to clear the crash. He also said the material was hazardous if a person stood a few feet near it, or if they were directly exposed to it.

He later said it was a chemical called Autofroth, which is basically plastic in a liquid state. He said it is commonly used to make foam.

Both I-40 West and I-40 East were closed for the safety of drivers, according to THP, and traffic was re-routed. Esway said he expected the eastbound side to reopen within a few hours at around 5 p.m.

Information about the specific kind of hazardous material that the tractor-trailer was carrying was not immediately available. Officials said it was a kind of pressurized liquid.

There were no evacuations issued, according to Esway.

This story is ongoing and we will update you as we learn more. 

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