Evacuation zone around Arkema’s Texas plant lifted after controlled ignitions

04 September 2017 12:37 Source:ICIS News

Arkema Crosby plantAir view published by Arkema of its Crosby, Texas site, following floods caused by Hurricane Harvey

LONDON (ICIS)--The 1.5 mile (2.4 kilometre) evacuation zone surrounding Arkema’s Crosby plant in Texas, US, has been lifted following the site’s flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, the French chemical major said on Monday.

The company’s site in Texas producing liquid organic peroxides flooded on the 26-27 August weekend and lost electricity supply.

Without power, the refrigerators keeping the chemicals cool stopped working and an explosion was inevitable once the materials reached certain temperature, a spokesperson for the company told ICIS on 31 August.

In anticipation of the explosion, local authorities agreed to evacuate residents around the plant, who were only able to come back to their homes on Monday after a series of controlled ignition of chemicals took place over the 2-3 September weekend, according to Arkema and local officials.

“The actions taken on Sunday September 3 on the Crosby site made it possible to neutralise the remaining trailer tanks containing the organic peroxides that could no longer be stored safely after Hurricane Harvey had made landfall in Texas,” said Arkema.

“Arkema Inc., in coordination with [the local] unified command, took proactive action this evening shortly before 17:00 [local time, 3 September] to safely cause ignition of the remaining containers at the company’s site in Crosby. The remaining six containers storing organic peroxide products have now largely burned themselves out,”  the company said in an update on Sunday.

Together with officials, the company also said on Sunday that, despite not being refrigerated, some chemicals were failing to ignite completely.

When “clear visual evidence” that the materials in the trailers were degrading but failing to burn themselves out was observed, the company and local officials agreed on controlled ignitions to be certain the hazardous chemicals had been fully eliminated.

Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas on 25 August, has caused havoc in the US as the southern state is the country’s chemical, petrochemical and crude oil hub, with several force majeures reported.

Crosby, TexasLocation of the plant, east of Houston

By Jonathan Lopez