Plant officials at Arkema Inc., an organic peroxides refinery in Crosby, just east of Houston, are urging those in a 1.5 mile radius to evacuate the area and for travel on Highway 90 (the Beaumont Highway) in that same area to cease.
All staff has left the area and the hope the plant will stabilize on its own.
The situation at the Crosby site has become serious. In order to ensure the safety of our ride-out team, all personnel have been evacuated from the site at this time.
We are working with the Department of Homeland Security and the State of Texas to set up a command post in a suitable location near our site. Refrigeration on some of our back-up product storage containers has been compromised due to extremely high water, which is unprecedented in the Crosby area. We are monitoring the temperature of each refrigeration container remotely. At this time, while we do not believe there is any imminent danger, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real.
A subsequent Houston Chronicle report had more details, specifically about that command post and the heroism of some very brave employees:
The company that owns a flooded chemical plant in Crosby where refrigeration of explosive, heat-sensitive chemicals failed says workers are still on site but have been moved away from the hazard.
The chemicals were moved to diesel-powered refrigeration cars, which the company is still monitoring, Arkema spokeswoman Janet Smith wrote in an email.
A wife of one of the workers had previously reported that Crosby firefighters evacuated a group of about 12 employees overnight. But Smith said the workers were given the option of leaving with rescue crews, and only one chose to do so.
Smith further told the Chronicle that they did not believe that either “the community” or the ride-out crew were in danger due to the distance of the refrigeration cars from any people.
Update 8/30/17: On August 30, Arkema’s CEO, Richard Rowe, said that degrading chemicals are expected to lead to a fire or explosion at the plant in Crosby within the next six days. “We believe that any sustained environmental impact should be minimal,” he said.