Houston, Texas. August 30th. About 1,300 households and over 3,800 people in a three-mile radius of Arkema inc. Chemical Plant in Crosby (Houston Metro) Texas, have been evacuated after Arkema North America CEO Richard Rowe warned on a call with reporters today Wednesday that the flooded chemical plant is about to explode. The Arkema plant is filled with 6 ft of water, primary and secondary power back up has been lost and there’s no way they can get in and restore it.
The Arkema Inc. factory lost power early Sunday, which it needs to refrigerate volatile chemicals. Those chemicals ignite if they get too warm ― something likely to happen in the next six days according to Richard Rowe.
“Materials could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire. The high water that exists on site, and the lack of power, leave us with no way to prevent it. We’re really blocked from taking meaningful action…And as a result, critical refrigeration needed for our materials on site is lost. Materials could now explode and cause a subsequent and intense fire. The high water that exists on site, and the lack of power, leave us with no way to prevent it…The site has experienced heavy flooding from Hurricane Harvey, “receiving approximately 40 inches by Monday afternoon.”
Harris County where Houston is located earlier released this statement:
“As a protective measure Harris County has evacuated all residents within 1.5 miles of the Arkema facility, in the 18000 block of Crosby Eastgate Rd., in far northeast Harris County. This is a precautionary measure only. Arkema notified the County of a possible reaction of some of the chemicals on site. 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 County will continue to monitor the situation and work with company officials.”
Arkema manufactures volatile organic peroxides at the Crosby plant.
The Environmental Protection Agency is supporting local agencies in dealing with the situation.
“We are aware of the situation and are working with TCEQ, who is the lead in this situation, to support them and other state and local officials to mitigate risk to human health or the environment,” an EPA spokesperson said in a statement.
Photo: Arkema inc. Chemical Plant in Crosby (Houston Metro) Texas
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board — the federal agency that investigates and helps clean up chemical accidents — also said it was aware of the situation. “The CSB is aware of the situation through news reports. We don’t have any other information other than what we are gathering from news reports. We are prepared to deploy to any incident that might result from Hurricane Harvey.”