Two Explosions Have Been Reported at a Flooded Chemical Plant in Texas

The facility lost its ability to keep dangerous organic peroxides at low temperatures.

KPRC Houston

Update, August 31: Two explosions were reported at Arkema Inc. early Thursday morning. The France-based company released a statement confirming the news, adding that public officials have concluded the “best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out.”

Previously:

A chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, is at risk of exploding, thanks to Harvey’s floodwaters.

Arkema Inc., which manufactures organic peroxides that must be stored at low temperatures, released a statement Tuesday evening saying, “The potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real.” The facility lost the ability to keep the chemicals at a low temperature when the electricity went out and back-up generators were flooded. If the chemicals are not properly cooled, they will catch fire and explode.

The chemical plant, which is 25 miles northeast of Houston is surrounded by six feet of water. The company evacuated the small number of remaining employees and Harris County officials told residents within a one-and-a-half mile radius to evacuate as well. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 4,000 people live within a three-mile radius of the plant. The Federal Aviation Administration also banned flights over the area.

Many oil refineries and chemical plants shut down production ahead of the storm but there were still reports of an “unbearable chemical smell” in the Houston area. Rowe told reporters on Wednesday to expect an explosion, which could cause serious damage to the facility, in six days.