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HazMat situation closes I-40 West in Crittenden County for much of Tuesday

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. -- A hazardous materials emergency closed I-40 West in Crittenden County for much of Tuesday.

A truck overturned on I-40 West near the Lehi exit around 6:15 a.m. near mile marker 272. Several containers from the truck, which is from Empire Express, were thrown onto the road when the roof of the truck opened. Thankfully the driver was not seriously hurt.

Traffic on I-40 West was stopped at College Boulevard until one lane opened around 1:40 p.m.

For several hours, eastbound lanes were also closed.

The truck was possibly carrying sodium cyanide, which is a toxic chemical activated by water.

All the while, emergency crews stressed the importance of staying out of contact with the chemical, which health experts say could be deadly.

"When it's ingested or inhaled in the human body, it interferes with the absorption of oxygen," Dr. Mark Castellaw with Baptist Medical Group told WREG.

As dangerous as it is, there's a lot of sodium cyanide being produced right here in Memphis at a chemical plant of Fite Road.

On its website, the Chemours Company writes a quarter of the world's supply of the chemical is produced here. That means everyday trucks filled with the stuff are traveling on Memphis roadways.

The company said its "routes are carefully chosen, stress tested and monitored."

"If it gets into the atmosphere and you're in direct contact with it, it can cause serious life-threatening conditions that if you feel after being exposed to or thinking you were exposed to this chemical, need to go to the emergency room for evaluation."

Click here to learn more about sodium cyanide.