Two explosions were reported at the Arkema plant in Crosby, TX, roughly 25 miles northeast of Houston, and black smoke was reported to be rising from the plant.
Because of massive flooding from Hurricane Harvey, the plant, which produces liquid organic peroxides that are used primarily in the production of plastic resins, polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC and polyester reinforced fiberglass, and acrylic resins, lost power and the ability to safely store the chemicals. Without refrigeration, the chemicals can explode and cause fires.
Local officials had previously established an evacuation zone in an area 1.5 miles from the plant, based on their assessment of the situation.
Here is a statement from Arkema:
"As we communicated in recent days, our site followed its hurricane preparation plan in advance of the recent hurricane and we had redundant contingency plans in place. However, unprecedented flooding overwhelmed our primary power and two sources of emergency backup power. As a result, we lost critical refrigeration of the products on site. Some of our organic peroxides products burn if not stored at low temperature.
"We have been working closely with public officials to manage the implications of this situation, and have communicated with the public the potential for product to explode and cause an intense fire. Organic peroxides are extremely flammable and, as agreed with public officials, the best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out.
We want local residents to be aware that product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains. Please do not return to the area within the evacuation zone until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe to do so."
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