Floodwater from Hurricane Harvey causes explosions at Arkema chemical plant

Two explosions have been reported at Arkema’s plant in Crosby, Texas, a facility shut down  on Friday 25 August, 2017 in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey.

Arkema

The plant makes liquid organic peroxides that are used in the production of numerous products including plastic resins, polypropylene, PVC and acrylic resins.

Arkema stores its organic peroxides in refrigeration units to prevent them degrading and catching fire, but a loss of power due to flooding disabled the plant’s normal and emergency backup refrigeration systems.

The company had made a number of contingency plans in anticipation of the tropical storm; back-up generators were on site as a redundant power supply for refrigeration, and the company brought in diesel powered refrigerated tank trailers and additional fuel as a further redundancy measure.

The site lost primary power early on the morning of August 27, 2017, and the additional back-up generators were subsequently inundated by water and failed.

Arkema announced yesterday, August 30, 2017 that most of the refrigeration units had failed due to flooding and that the emergency ‘ride out’ crew had evacuated the site, which can only be accessed by boat.

In a statement issued on August 30, 2017, Rich Rowe, president and CEO, Arkema Inc said: “At Crosby, we prepared for what we recognised could be a worst case scenario.  We had redundant contingency plans in place.  Right now, we have an unprecedented six feet of water at the plant.  We have lost primary power and two sources of emergency backup power.  As a result, we have lost critical refrigeration of the materials on site that could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire. The high water and lack of power leave us with no way to prevent it.”

All residents within a 1.5 mile radius of the Crosby plant had been evacuated prior to today’s explosions.

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