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Arkema Says Dangerous Chemicals Are Burned Out at Crosby Plant

The Arkema plant in Crosby was damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
The Arkema plant in Crosby was damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Screenshot from Google Earth
Update, 9:56 p.m.: Arkema said Sunday evening that the company was able to set fire to the remaining containers of chemicals at the Crosby plant. The remaining six containers of organic peroxide "have now largely burned themselves out," the company said. Arkema said local emergency officials will determine whether to adjust or cancel the evacuation zone within a 1.5-mile radius of the plant.

The Arkema Inc. ammonia plant in Crosby, which was flooded by Hurricane Harvey and subsequently caught fire on Friday, remains a danger to the public, the company announced Sunday afternoon.

Since there are chemicals in trailers at the site that are degrading "but have failed to ignite completely," Arkema says it cannot determine whether the hazard has been eliminated.

Therefore, the company is taking "proactive measures to safely cause ignition of the remaining trailers through controlled means." In other words, Arkema is lighting the chemicals on fire itself.

Arkema, a French chemical company, said its experts believe this is the safest approach. A 1.5-mile evacuation zone remains in place. ABC 13 reported just before 5 p.m. that new plumes of smoke could be seen at the Crosby plant.

While Arkema's controlled burn may eliminate the present danger the plant poses to the public, it will not extinguish questions as to how the company allowed the plant to be in such peril. In 2006 and 2011, Arkema was punished for how it stored and handled the chemicals kept at the Crosby facility. The chemicals the plant handles are similar to those that in 2013 caused a massive explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant that killed 15 people and injured nearly 200 others.
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Zach Despart is the managing editor of the Houston Press and oversees the news and music verticals.
Contact: Zach Despart