Explosions and Smoke Reported at Flooded Chemical Plant in Texas Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Photo of Explosions and Smoke Reported at Flooded Chemical Plant in Texas Affected by Hurricane Harvey

The operators of a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, affected by the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey said Thursday that two explosions rocked the facility in the early morning hours.

Arkema, Inc., which runs the plant 25 miles northeast of Houston, said in a release they were notified of two explosions and black smoke at the site by Harris County Emergency Operations at about 2 a.m. local time. They added there was a risk of further explosions at the facility.

The company explained that despite following their hurricane preparation plan and setting up an evacuation zone in an area 1.5 miles from the plant, extreme flooding affected the facility which makes organic peroxides used in the production of plastic resins, paints and other products.

“However, unprecedented flooding overwhelmed our primary power and two sources of emergency backup power,” they said. “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.”

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Arkema urged residents to avoid the area until further notice.

“Organic peroxides are extremely flammable and, as agreed with public officials, the best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out,” the company announced. “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.”

Harris County Sheriff’s Office announced on Twitter that a deputy was taken to a hospital after inhaling fumes from the plant. Nine others sought medical care as a precautionary measure, but the office later announced that they believed they inhaled a non-toxic irritant.

Rep. Ted Poe, who represents the district that includes the chemical plant, told ABC News, “The worst-case scenario is that this chemical plant could explode.”

Harvey, a record-shattering storm, touched down as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, dumping several inches of rain on the Texas Coastal Bend. The storm left homes flooded, many without power and several buildings destroyed.

Local officials reported 30 confirmed and suspected flood-related deaths according to the New York Times.

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