On Thursday at 4:30pm, it was announced that the United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board launched an investigation into a fire at a chemical plant located in Crosby, Texas. The investigation happened after an explosion reportedly occurred at the flooded facility on Thursday morning. And now, on Friday, another explosion has officially occurred at the Arkema plant.
The chemical plant first lost power and refrigeration abilities in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. This caused organic peroxides stored in containers at the facility to become unstable and break down after being exposed to the Texas heat.
According to ABC News, there are reportedly no further expected fires or explosions to occur at the plant. But there are eight other containers on site that could burn and combust in the coming hours or days. The site, therefore, is still highly dangerous. There are 500,000 pounds of material expected to burn out.
All residents within a 1.5 mile radius have been evacuated from their location. The plant is located about 27 miles east of Houston. The Arkema plant located near Houston is currently sitting in the middle of floodwaters that has destroyed its primary and two backup power generators.
“We have an unprecedented 6 feet of water at the plant,” Arkema President and CEO Rich Rowe said according to ABC News. “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."
The Environmental Protection Agency is supporting local agencies in dealing with the situation, reports ABC News. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board – the federal agency that cleans up chemical accidents – is also aware of the situation.
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