Tropical Storm Harvey Could Trigger Explosion At Giant Chemical Plant In Texas

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Officials are evacuating employees and residents near a chemical plant in Houston at risk of exploding because of a chemical reactions with high floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey.

The situation has become serious, officials at the plant said Wednesday night. The Arkema chemical site in Crosby, Texas, was shutdown Friday in anticipation of for Harvey’s landfall.

Harvey dumped more than 40 inches of rain on Crosby, leaving the site water-logged and without power for several days. Officials are worried the mixture of toxic chemicals and standing water could cause a massive fire. They’ve evacuated residents within a 1.5 mile radius of the plant.

Officials are working with the Department of Homeland Security and the State to set construct a triage center near the plant. high water levels have compromised the area’s refrigeration system on back-up product storage containers.

Authorities told reporters there is no immediate danger, but torrential rain creates a risk for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion.

The storm is breaking long-standing rainfall records. A rain gauge in the southeast section of Houston, for instance, reported 49 inches of rain Tuesday, nearly four days after Harvey made landfall. The total, which was recorded from Aug. 24 to Tuesday, is higher than the 48 inches set during tropical cyclone Amelia in 1978.

Officials suggest that things will likely get worse for Houston before they get better. Citizens should expect two more feet of rain on top of whatever amount has already fallen, authorities noted Tuesday, adding that the worst could be yet to come. Emergency crews have already rescued 3,000 people in Houston, among other nearby cities.

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