Image above from NBC News
A series of chemical “pops”, not full explosions, and smoke at a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas prompted evacuations Thursday morning.
Flood waters disrupted power at Arkema Chemical Plant, such that they lost cooling in 8 of the 9 organic chemical containers containing organic peroxides. As the chemicals warm up they become combustible and fires could release noxious hydrocarbons.
No chemical release is ongoing. And no damage has been anticipated to any other property on site.
A 1 1/2 mile evacuation zone was initiated as all back up systems, including generators failed.
8 of the 9 organic chemical containers lost refrigeration and the contents are expected to degrade as they heat up and risk being combustible. Organic peroxides explosively decompose.
According to Richard Rennard, spokesperson for Arkema confirmed, “This is not a chemical release. It’s a fire.” And he explained that the chemical hydrocarbons may be released from the fire.
Harris County Sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, said, “I want to be very clear: It was not an explosion.” and reassured citizens by saying “It is not anything toxic; it is not anything that we feel is a danger to the community at all.”
Rennard stated the flood water levels in the plant are starting to recede slightly.
Crosby Texas is located 25 miles northeast of Houston.
Fifteen police offers were hospitalized for observation when they complained of headaches and dizziness after the explosion.
The smoke may cause liver damage, irritate the cornea of the eyes, skin irritation and respiratory problems.
Organic peroxides, used ubiquitously in the plastic and rubber industry, must be kept cold. When the organic peroxides heat up they begin to degrade and become toxic and corrosive.
It appears they plan to keep people out of the plant and let the chemicals degrade on their own.
Flood waters are preventing further inspection of the chemicals.
This is a developing story.