Officials and employees of a Crosby, Texas-based Arkema plant have been monitoring the facility waiting for inevitable chemical reactions that would lead to explosions after Hurricane Harvey stormed through the area. On August 31 those explosions started happening.
The plant, which produces organic peroxides, has been hit by several feet of rain, is heavily flooded and has been without electricity since Sunday. Back-up generators haven’t been able to mitigate the power loss.
Maintaining refrigeration for chemicals that must be stored at low temperature is key, the company said in a statement. After losing generators, workers transferred products from the warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers.
Arkema said in a statement that it was notified by the Harris County Emergency Operations Center “of two explosions and black smoke” coming from the facility, which was under about six feet of water from the relentless rains unleashed by Harvey.
“A threat of additional explosion remains,” Arkema said in the statement, which urged residents to stay clear of a temporary evacuation zone set up Wednesday.
According to a Washington Post article, the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office reported “a series of chemical reactions” and “intermittent smoke” at the facility; a county official said there weren’t “massive explosions,” and instead referred to the reactions as “pops,” followed by fire.