Explosions, black smoke rising from chemical plant damaged in Harvey: Officials

A pair of explosions were heard early Thursday morning and black smoke was seen rising from a chemical plant near Houston compromised by flooding from Hurricane Harvey, officials said.

Arkema, Inc., which runs the plant, said in a release they were notified of the explosions by Harris County Emergency Operations at about 2 a.m. CDT. Harris County police said on Twitter that one deputy was taken to the hospital after inhaling fumes from the plant and nine other officers drove themselves to the plant as a precaution.

The area around the plant, which produces organic peroxides used in a variety of products, including construction material, had already been evacuated.

Arkema said it was continuing to monitor developments along with local authorities.

Arkema’s CEO said on Wednesday that there was “no way to prevent” a possible explosion at the company’s Crosby, Texas facility, which has been heavily flooded as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

“We have an unprecedented 6 feet of water at the plant,” Arkema President and CEO Rich Rowe said in comments made Wednesday. “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,” he said.

Rowe added: “We have evacuated our personnel for their own safety. The federal, state and local authorities were contacted a few days ago, and we are working very closely with them to manage this matter. They have ordered the surrounding community to be evacuated, too.”

Residents within a 1.5-mile radius of the facility, which is about 27 miles east of Houston, have been told to leave, according to the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office.

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