Crosby, Texas –The Arkema chemical plant at Crosby near the flooded US city of Houston is expected to explode or catch fire in the coming days, according to the most recent company update on 30 Aug.
A storm-related power outage has created an explosion risk at a plastics additives plant operated by Arkema Group in Crosby, Texas.
"As of late this afternoon, the situation at the Crosby site had become serious. In order to ensure the safety of our ride-out team, all personnel have been evacuated from the site at this time. We are working with the Department of Homeland Security and the State of Texas to set up a command post in a suitable location near our site. We also have been in contact with other regulatory authorities, who are aware of this situation," Arkema added.
Arkema’s Crosby plant makes liquid organic peroxides, under the brand name Luperox, that are used primarily in the production of thermoplastic elastomers, rubber and polymers, according to the company's website.
The primary challenge, said the French chemicals company, has been maintaining refrigeration for these products, which are stored at low temperature.
"The site lost refrigeration to all of its cold-storage warehouses when electrical power was lost and back-up generators were flooded. Our team then transferred products from the warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers, and continued to monitor the situation," it added.
The facility lost power late 28 Aug from both its primary supply and its backup generators due to flooding.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast 25 Aug, bringing with it heavy rains that have resulted in at least eight deaths and shut down most plastics and petrochemicals plants in the area.
"Arkema is limited in what it can do to address the site conditions until the storm abates. 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 in the statement, which was updated at on 30 Aug.
The Crosby Fire Department evacuated one employee 28 Aug and the rest of the staff was evacuated 29 Aug when the refrigeration in some of the back-up containers also started to fail, according to a story in the Houston Chronicle.
ERJ update of story by Frank Esposito of Plastics News