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Explosion risk at flooded plant 'real' but not imminent, company says

People within a 1.5-mile radius of plant were evacuated

CROSBY, Texas – The risk of an explosion or fire at a Crosby chemical plant affected by flooding is “real,” but not imminent, according to a statement released Tuesday from the company that owns the plant.

In the statement, Arkema Americas described the situation at the plant as “serious,” saying they have pulled all personnel out of the site.

The company said that the organic peroxides that are manufactured at the plant are normally refrigerated, but when the site was flooded, the plant lost power and backup generators were inundated.

A team of 11 was left at the plant Friday to ride out the storm and ensure the safety of the chemicals, according to the company. That team moved the chemicals to diesel-powered refrigeration units, and continued monitoring the situation. That team was evacuated Tuesday.

Company officials said Tuesday that refrigeration on the backup storage containers has been compromised due to extremely high water.

“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,” company officials said in Tuesday’s statement.

KPRC 2 reporter Joel Eisenbaum said officials at the scene reported that people with a 1.5-mile radius of the plant were being evacuated. 

Company officials said they are working with the Department of Homeland Security and the State of Texas to set up a command post, and are monitoring the situation remotely.