Risk of chemical plant explosion near Houston prompts evacuation after Harvey

Risk of chemical plant explosion near Houston prompts evacuation after Harvey

Risk of chemical plant explosion near Houston prompts evacuation after Harvey

The plant manufactures organic peroxides and ammonia, key ingredients in biodegradable herbicides, pesticides and animal feed supplements. They are continuing to monitor the temperatures of the refrigerated chemicals remotely, but say there's little they can do to change the situation until the flood waters recede.

Janet Smith, Arkema's spokesperson, told the Houston Chronicle that the company's cold-storage warehouse lost power when backup generators were flooded. "We have lost primary power and two sources of emergency backup power".

"There is no way to prevent an explosion or fire", Rowe said.

The facility evacuated all of its employees Tuesday, and approximately 300 people living within 1.5 miles of the plant have been voluntarily evacuated as well.

Yesterday, the company said: "The situation at the Crosby site has become serious".

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It would be surprising if the company had not considered a scenario like this, the Chronicle cited Sam Mannan of Texas A&M University's Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center.

Arkema Group's plant in Crosby, Texas - about 20 miles northeast of Houston - was inundated by more than 40 inches of rain by Hurricane Harvey and has been without electricity since Sunday, the company, based in Colombes, France, said in a statement. Typically, companies can quench organic peroxides in situations like this by combining them with another chemical, eliminating the danger.

"There is a potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire at the facility, which could produce a large amount of black smoke", the fire marshal, citing Arkema, said.

He downplayed any long-term impact or any toxic inhalation hazards from a fire or explosion at the plant, saying he was not aware of anything the public should be concerned about. The federal, state and local authorities were contacted a few days ago, and we are working very closely with them to manage this matter.

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