CLOSE

The French operator of a flooded Houston-area chemical plant says a fire was caused by the degradation of chemicals lacking refrigeration in containers and that up to eight more could burn and explode. (Aug. 31)
AP

CROSBY, Texas — Fifteen Harris County deputies were exposed to a ‘non-toxic irritant’ Thursday after a refrigeration truck container holding chemicals caught fire at an Arkema plant.

Arkema executive Richard Rennard said the plant “fully expects” eight more containers to burn at the flooded plant. He said anyone exposed to smoke or fumes from the plant should seek medical attention because the smoke could cause irritation to eyes and lungs.

“What we have going is not a chemical release,” he said. “This is a fire. And when you have a fire where hydrocarbons are burning — sometimes you have incomplete combustion and you have smoke.”

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said one deputy was taken to the hospital by ambulance and 14 others drove themselves as a precaution. All were released a short time later, he said.

“It is not anything toxic,” Gonzalez said. “It is not anything we feel is a danger to the community.”

CLOSE

A Houston-area chemical plant that lost power after Harvey engulfed the area in extensive floods was rocked by two explosions early Thursday, the plant’s operator said. (Aug. 31)
AP

A mandatory evacuation zone with a 1.5-mile radius was established as a precaution. The incident was first reported by emergency officials as two explosions, but law enforcement later said relief valves on the containers popped, spewing black smoke and fire. 

Assistant Fire Chief Bob Royall said that these were expected reactions that would…