Risk of chemical plant explosion near Houston prompts evacuation after Harvey

Violet Tucker
August 31, 2017

"At the time, while we do not believe there is any imminent danger, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real".

A fire or explosion looks likely in Crosby, Texas, where a chemical plant owned by Arkema Inc. now sits submerged under six feet of floodwater. But then the generators supplying that cooling were compromised when the flood waters rose up even higher, to levels that are unprecedented in Crosby, according to a company release. On Tuesday, all of the plant's workers were sent home, residents within 1.5 miles of the plant were evacuated, and a nearby stretch of highway was shut down after the plant was inundated with water from Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding. "A small ride-out crew of 11 people remained on site for some days", the company said in a statement. More than 40 inches of rain fell during the storm and the plant has been without power since Sunday, but on Tuesday the situation got dire when even the emergency generators failed. Rowe described this evacuation radius as "conservative", and said he expects that the effects of a fire or explosion would be contained on the site's facilities. "The County will continue to monitor the situation and work with company officials".

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"Arkema is limited in what it can do to address the site conditions until the storm abates". "We are working without pause to keep our materials safe".

"We have no higher priority than the safety of our employees, neighbors and the environment". In other words, it makes sense Arkema and local, state and federal officials didn't fool around once the situation became clear. The company Web site says that the chemicals it produces are used in countertops, paints, headlight assemblies, polystyrene cups and plates, and PVC pipes and packaging.

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