Explosions reported at flooded chemical plant in Texas after Hurricane Harvey

French chemicals group Arkema confirmed on Thursday two explosions at its plant in Crosby, Texas, and added there was a risk of further explosions at the site.

“We want local residents to be aware that the product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains,” Arkema said in a statement.

Trucks make their way through flood waters on a main road leading to the Arkema Inc. chemical plant Credit: AFP

“Please do not return to the area within the evacuation zone until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe to do so,” it added. 

Smoke and an explosion were reported on Thursday morning at the flood-hit chemical plant.

The Arkema chemical plant is flooded

The company evacuated remaining workers at the damaged plant on Tuesday, and Harris County ordered the evacuation of residents within a 1.5-mile (2.4-km) radius of the plant, which makes organic peroxides used in the production of plastic resins, polystyrene, paints and other products. 

One Sheriff’s Deputy has been taken to hospital after inhaling fumes from the explosion. 

It was reported earlier that Arkema SA expected chemicals to catch fire or explode at its heavily flooded plant in Crosby, Texas in the coming days because the plant has lost power to its chemical cooling systems, a company official said on Wednesday.

Hurricane Harvey hits Texas, in pictures

The company evacuated remaining workers on Tuesday, and Harris County ordered the evacuation of residents in a 1.5-mile(2.4-km) radius of the plant that makes organic peroxides used in the production of plastic resins, polystyrene, paints and other products.

Richard Rowe, chief executive officer of Arkema’s North America unit, told reporters that chemicals on the site would catch fire and explode if they are not properly cooled.

He said the company had no way to prevent an explosion because the plant was swamped by about 6 feet (1.83 m) of water due to flooding from Harvey, which came ashore in Texas last week as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.

“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,” Rowe said. He said he believed a fire would be “largely sustained on our site but we are trying to be conservative.”

The company said it opted not to move chemicals before the storm but made extensive preparations. The plant is 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Houston.

Rowe did not disclose the…

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