Getting Back to Normal After Hazardous Materials Accident

*UPDATED April 28, 2007 5:40 p.m. CDT by Will Carter*

POCAHONTAS, AR-It's a very different scene just 24 hours after a truck belonging to the Austin Powder Company wrecked on Hoelsher Lane in Randolph County.

On Saturday, residents like George Welling reflect on the events of the day before.

"There was a little inconvenience because i didn't get my second cup of coffee yesterday morning, but i think everything was done for the protection of the people."

Welling was one of many evacuated after the contents of that truck spilled onto the roadway creating a hazardous materials situation.

"I knew the truck was extremely dangerous with it being upside down and leaking. That created a great potential for hazard."

Fire Chief Baltz says the evacuations started immediately, but the perimeter was quickly widened.

"The initial evacuation was not quite far enough once we got in and studied the chemicals and the reactions they could have," said Baltz.

While the majority of the wreck site was cleaned up by early morning, yellow tape still marks an area that needs to be ground tested to ensure these chemicals did no damage to the environment.

However, had something went wrong, Friday's accident could have had a drastically different outcome.

"It could have went either way. If there would have just been a small fraction of scenario changed, it could have went tragically wrong," said Baltz.

For that a lot of training and preparation paid off.

"We were extremely fortunate getting as many people as we could out in a timely manner. We apologize for displacing anybody or inconveniencing anybody, but when it comes to someone's safety, we are going to air on the side of caution," said Baltz.

Meanwhile, residents have returned home and things are getting back to normal.

"We got back about 6:30 last night. We had dinner, and as you said in your broadcast, maybe they'll have dinner and watch tv. Well, we did," said Welling.

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POCAHONTAS, AR - An 18-wheeler tanker truck overturned this morning just outside of Pocahontas, causing a spill of dangerous chemicals and ingredients.

A hazardous materials team is at the scene, as are crews from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

The truck, owned by Austin Powder Company, was reportedly hauling dynamite caps, TNT, acid and emulsions.  Every container on the truck's trailer was reportedly breached.

The accident happened shortly after 8 a.m., on Hoelscher Lane, just west of Pocahontas.  Authorities initially evacuated the area within a 1-mile radius of the accident scene, but now are expanding the evacuation area to a 1.5 mile radius.  The area is expected to remain evacuated through the evening.  A temporary evacuation center has been set up at the Sutton Baptist Church on Highway 62 in Pocahontas.

The driver of the truck was injured in the accident, and was taken to the Randolph County Medical Center in Pocahontas.  His name has not yet been released.


The hazardous materials team has left the scene, however, the clean up crews remain.  A mile and a half area was evacuated displacing around 200 people.  However, authorities have cleared the way and the evacuees are returning to their homes.