‘No way to prevent’ potential chemical plant explosion near Houston, Arkema CEO says

Posted on: August 30th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Thinkstock(CROSBY, Tex.) — The situation at an Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, outside of Houston, has become “serious,” the company said in a statement, and there is a risk that the plant could catch fire or explode.

Arkema’s North American operations Chief Executive Rich Row said Wednesday that the company has “no way to prevent” a possible explosion at the facility.

“We have an unprecedented 6 feet of water throughout the plant,” Rowe said in a teleconference Wednesday with reporters, according to the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve lost primary power and two sources of emergency backup power.

“And as a result, critical refrigeration needed for our materials on site is lost. Materials could now explode and cause a subsequent and intense fire. The high water that exists on site, and the lack of power, leave us with no way to prevent it.”

The site has experienced heavy flooding from Hurricane Harvey, “receiving approximately 40 inches by Monday afternoon,” the company said.

On Tuesday, the company said it didn’t believe there was any “imminent danger” but stressed that “the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real.”

Residents within a 1.5-mile radius of the facility have been asked to evacuate, according to the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office.

The Environmental Protection Agency is supporting local agencies in dealing with the situation.

“We are aware of the situation and are working with TCEQ, who is the lead in this situation, to support them and other state and local officials to mitigate risk to human health or the environment,” an EPA spokesperson said in a statement.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board — the federal agency that investigates and helps clean up chemical accidents — also said it was aware of the situation.

“The CSB is aware of the situation through news reports. We don’t have any other information other than what we are gathering from news reports. We are prepared to deploy to any incident that might result from Hurricane Harvey.”

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