A new explosion has taken place at a chemical plant owned by Arkema Inc. in Texas where powerful storm Harvey wreaked havoc last week, causing serious damage to homes and other structures.
The explosion on Friday caused a massive fire at the chemical plant in Crosby, northeast of Houston, sending thick black smoke high into the sky, TV footage showed.
Workers at the Harris County Emergency Operation Center saw “multiple dark plumes of smoke” coming from the plant at around 5:05 p.m. local time, Arkema said in a statement.
The incident happened as a result of “extremely high water and power loss” in the aftermath of the storm, the statement added.
The company officials had already said that they expected additional fires from the 49-year-old plant.
“It’s the reaction we were expecting to happen,” an employee told AFP. “Measures have already been taken and the area has been evacuated and there’s no people around.”
Smoke is seen rising from the Arkema chemical manufacturing and storage facility that burst into flames after Hurricane Harvey on September 1, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
“We continue to work closely with public officials to manage the implications of this situation, and have communicated with the public the potential for product to explode and cause an intense fire,” Arkema said. “Organic peroxides are extremely flammable and, as agreed with public officials, the best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out.”
Officials set up a 1.5-mile perimeter around the plant and asked people not to return to the area until they are told otherwise.
On Thursday, a chemical storage trailer exploded, setting off a fire which prompted the authorities to launch an investigation.
The Arkema plant had been under about 6 feet of water after flooding from Harvey that hit southeast Texas last week.
There had been about 227,000 kg of liquid organic peroxide on site with another eight tanks still remain following the storm.
Some 779,000 Texans have been told to leave their homes and another 980,000 fled voluntarily amid dangers of new flooding from swollen rivers and reservoirs.
A car is seen on a flooded Highway 90 in Nome, Texas on August 31, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Texas officials said at least 44 people were dead or feared dead. Another 19 remained missing. About 189,000 homes and businesses remained without electricity and nearly 100,000 homes suffered flood damage.
The health risks from pollutants in floodwater and loss of water were among hazards emerging in the aftermath of Harvey.