Residents evacuated over fear of Texas chemical plant explosion

The chemical manufacturing plant Arkema evacuated its employees on Tuesday due to the potential of an explosion caused by the flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, according to the company press release.

But its products must be kept at temperatures as low as 30 degrees or they risk bursting into flames, a worker at a nearby plant told the Washington Post.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s office said in a tweet Tuesday that homes within 1.5 miles of the Arkema plant in Crosby have been evacuated out of precaution.

By Monday afternoon, approximately 40 inches of rain fell at the Crosby facility, located about 25 miles northeast of Houston, leading to heavy flooding, power outages and the water inundation of its backup generators. Arkema officials say the facility lost refrigeration to all of its cold-storage warehouses after power went out and the backup generators were flooded. The plant said while it does not believe there is imminent danger, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and /or explosion within the site confines are real. Authorities are monitoring the temperature of each refrigeration container remotely.

Arkema’s Crosby plant makes liquid organic peroxides that are used primarily in the production of polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC and acrylic resins, as well as polyester-reinforced fiberglass, according to the firm’s website. It has been closed since Friday but had a skeletal staff of about a dozen in place. INEOS Nitriles’ Green Lake facility are following hurricane procedures and are temporarily shut down, spokesman Charles Saunders said.

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