Empire Express’ safety record

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. -- Traffic was at a standstill on I-40 early Tuesday morning after an 18 wheeler carrying a potentially deadly chemical crashed.

The Memphis-based company was carrying Sodium Cyanide.

"You always want to treat it as a worse case scenario and then you can digress from there," said DeWayne Rose, Division Chief of West Memphis Fire Department.

West Memphis fire crews responded to the sodium cyanide spill Tuesday morning

Rose said the Sodium Cyanide was in a granular form and never posed a threat to the public.

WREG confirmed the truck pulling the hazardous material is operated by Empire Express. Their website says they’ve been around since 1985 and service 48 states. They say 35 percent of their loads are packaged chemicals or related products like agricultural chemicals or paint-related chemicals.

A spokesperson with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said Empire Express Incorporated has a satisfactory rating and has met all of their requirements. They are registered to have 189 trucks and 167 drivers.

The FMCSA randomly inspects drivers, sometimes at truck stops or weigh-ins.

The FMCSA has conducted random inspections on the company for the last two years for vehicle, driver and hazmat conditions. In all three categories, Empire Express is doing better than the national average. The reason why something might not meet the FMCSA standards, which would put them “out of service” could be a variety of things from bald tires to a driver’s log book being off.

The FMCSA also says in the last two years Empire Express has been involved in 15 crashes. Six of them injury related, nine where one or more of the vehicles involved was inoperable. One thing to note, the break down does not indicate who was at fault in those crashes.

WREG is working to learn more about those other crashes.

Empire Express said their driver is going to be OK and they could not comment further because of the investigation.

No one else was injured in the wreck.