Two Explosions Have Been Reported at a Flooded Chemical Plant in Texas

The facility lost its ability to keep dangerous organic peroxides at low temperatures.

KPRC Houston

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Update, August 31: Two explosions were reported at Arkema Inc. early Thursday morning. The France-based company released a statement confirming the news, adding that public officials have concluded the “best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out.”

Previously:

A chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, is at risk of exploding, thanks to Harvey’s floodwaters.

Arkema Inc., which manufactures organic peroxides that must be stored at low temperatures, released a statement Tuesday evening saying, “The potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real.” The facility lost the ability to keep the chemicals at a low temperature when the electricity went out and back-up generators were flooded. If the chemicals are not properly cooled, they will catch fire and explode.

The chemical plant, which is 25 miles northeast of Houston is surrounded by six feet of water. The company evacuated the small number of remaining employees and Harris County officials told residents within a one-and-a-half mile radius to evacuate as well. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 4,000 people live within a three-mile radius of the plant. The Federal Aviation Administration also banned flights over the area.

Many oil refineries and chemical plants shut down production ahead of the storm but there were still reports of an “unbearable chemical smell” in the Houston area. Rowe told reporters on Wednesday to expect an explosion, which could cause serious damage to the facility, in six days. 

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest