A chemical plant in Crosby, TX has evacuated employees due to risk of an explosion, following the loss of primary power while backup generators begin to flood.
French owned Arkema, Inc. said the situation “has become serious,” and is working with the Department of Homeland Security to organize a command post at a suitable location near the site.
CEO of Arkema’s U.S. operations said “the company has no way of preventing chemicals from catching fire or exploding at its heavily flooded plant,” adding that “the company now expects chemicals on site to catch fire or explode within the next six days.”
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The plant, which produces explosive organic peroxides and ammonia, was hit by more than 40 inches of rain and has been heavily flooded, running without electricity since Sunday. The plant was closed since Friday but has had a skeleton staff of about a dozen in place. Following the flood surge, the plant’s back-up generators also failed. The threat emerged once the company could no longer maintain refrigeration for chemicals located on site, which have to be stored at low temperatures. The plant lost cooling when backup generators were flooded and then workers transferred products from the warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers.
On Tuesday afternoon, the company released a statement which admitted that “refrigeration on some of our back-up product storage containers has been compromised due to extremely high water, which is unprecedented in the Crosby area. We are monitoring the temperature of each refrigeration container remotely.” It then warned that “while we do not believe there is any imminent danger, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real.”
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