Things down in Texas just keep getting worse. In Crosby, Texas some deputies have been exposed to a “non-toxic irritant” at the Arkema chemical plant.
Explosions, Fire, Yikes
The incident was first reported by emergency officials when two explosions happened at the plant. After investigating, law enforcement referred to the situation as many containers popping, spewing black smoke, and fire. Assistant Fire Chief Bob Royall said these reactions are expected and would lead to fires until the organic peroxide burns itself out. Deputies were establishing a perimeter in the area when the “explosions” happened. About 10-15 deputies and EMS personnel were taken to the hospital as a precaution. Eight of them were released by 7 a.m. this morning.
Fire personnel has been in contact with the chemists and the company and they’ve developed a plan to handle the situation. Both fire personnel and the chemists believe the situation will be contained in the facility. Air monitoring has been deployed and there is a 1.5-mile evacuation zone. Officials did state previously that because refrigeration storage and backup procedures failed because of the storm that the chemicals would degrade and eventually catch fire. So luckily, this situation was expected.
All officials can do now is to let the fires burn out and hope that the entire plant won’t explode. If the plant does explode, the company said it would be like a large gasoline fire. Currently, the plant is only accessible by boat and workers will not be able to access the plant until waters crest in about 5-7 days. The company also stated that there is a small chance the chemicals could enter the flood waters and not burn.
Arkema Did Plan for Harvey
Arkema makes organic peroxides which are used anywhere from pharmaceuticals to construction materials. If not stored in the right conditions the chemicals will burn. The fires will emit a thick black smoke which can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.
“We are monitoring the temperature of each refrigeration container remotely. At this time, 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,” the company said.
The site has been shut down since Friday in anticipation of Harvey. The company did say this amount of high water is highly unusual. Well this storm is highly unusual so what exactly did you expect? the plant’s chemical inventory includes acetone, benzoyl chloride, chlorodifluromethane, cumene, cumene hydroperpoxide, DI(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, ethybenzene, ethylene glycol, hydrochloric acid, mercury, methyl ethylketone, n-hexane, sodium hydroxide, sodium sulfate, sulfuric acid and butyl alcohol. Lovely.
And of course if Trump didn’t cut all those wonderful budgets, this could have been avoided.