More fires, explosions expected at flooded chemical plant near Houston

Thursday, August 31, 2017
By Paul Martin
31 Aug, 2017

Eight more containers at a chemical plant northeast of Houston, Texas are expected to explode after one of them caught fire last night due to refrigeration failure. At least 15 sheriff’s deputies working on site were taken to the hospital.

Refrigeration in almost all containers at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas has failed due to heavy flooding in the Houston area, the company’s spokesman Richard Rennard said on Thursday, adding that he “fully” expected eight other containers to also catch fire, as the volatile chemicals degrade when not kept at a low temperature.

“We believe the safest thing to do is allow the product in the other eight containers to degrade and burn,” Rennard said during a news conference. “We’re not going to put anybody in harm’s way.” Public officials agree with that position, according to Arkema.

Rennard said he didn’t know what the composition of the smoke released by the fire at the plant was. “Toxicity… it’s a relative thing,” he said.

Fifteen sheriff’s deputies who inhaled the fumes had earlier been taken to the hospital and treated for respiratory irritation. They have since been released, according to Texas authorities.

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