Arkema CEO: "No Way To Prevent Imminent Explosion" At Texas Chemical Plant

Tyler Durden's picture

Update: here is the statement posted late on Wednesday afternoon on Arkema's US website on the current status of the Crosby, TX plant:

Comments from Rich Rowe, President & CEO, Arkema Inc. on our Site in Crosby, Texas 


The nation is dealing with a natural disaster of enormous magnitude in Texas.  As part of that, Arkema is dealing with a critical issue at our Crosby, Texas facility. 


Please let me begin by thanking our brave and dedicated employees who safely shut down the site before Hurricane Harvey made landfall.  Like everyone else in the region, these folks were dealing with personal and family issues caused by the storm, yet they performed their tasks in the most professional manner.


Next, we apologize to everyone impacted by our situation, particularly in combination with the horrible conditions visited upon the region by the hurricane.  We are working closely with many governmental authorities and first responders, and we want to thank them for their guidance, professionalism and dedication.  People are working around the clock under extremely challenging conditions, and the work thus far has been tremendous.  We cherish the strong relationships and support we have received from our neighbors, the  United States Department of Homeland Security, Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency, Harris County Fire Marshall’s Office, Harris County Texas Sheriff’s Office,  Federal Emergency Management Agency, and our elected representatives.


Our Crosby facility makes organic peroxides, a family of compounds that are used in everything from making pharmaceuticals to construction materials.  But organic peroxides may burn if not stored and handled under the right conditions.  At Crosby, we prepared for what we recognized could be a worst case scenario.  We had redundant contingency plans in place.  Right now, we have an unprecedented 6 feet of water at the plant.  We have lost primary power and two sources of emergency backup power.  As a result, we have lost critical refrigeration of the materials on site that could now explode and cause a subsequent intense fire. The high water and lack of power leave us with no way to prevent it.  We have evacuated our personnel  for their own safety.  The federal, state and local authorities were contacted a few days ago, and we are working very closely with them to manage this matter.  They have ordered the surrounding community to be evacuated, too. 


We are setting  up a call center to handle questions from neighbors and others affected, and a claims center to handle financial claims related to Arkema’s Crosby situation.  Also, we’ve reached out to local crisis leaders in Harris County and offered our support.  Once more, we apologize for impacting their lives.  We thank the governmental authorities who are working closely with us for their guidance and professionalism, and will continue to work with them until this situation is resolved.


Thank you.

* * *


Yesterday we reported, that in a potentially disastrous outcome from the Harvey flooding, a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas belonging to French industrial giant Arkema SA, has announced it is evacuating workers due to the risk of an explosion, after primary power was knocked out and flooding swamped its backup generators. The French company said the situation at the plant “has become serious” and said that it is 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.

The plant, which produces explosive organic peroxides and ammonia, was hit by more than 40 inches of rain and has been heavily flooded, running without electricity since Sunday. The plant was closed since Friday but has had a skeleton staff of about a dozen in place. Following the flood surge, the plant's back-up generators also failed. The threat emerged once the company could no longer maintain refrigeration for chemicals located on site, which have to be stored at low temperatures. The plant lost cooling when backup generators were flooded and then workers transferred products from the warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers.

On Tuesday afternoon, the company released a statement which admitted that "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." It then warned that “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."

One day later, and with the torrential rains finally over, has the situation at the giant peroxide chemical plant stabilized? Unfortunately, according to Reuters, the answer is no.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Richard Rowe, the chief executive of Arkema's American operations said that "the company has no way of preventing chemicals from catching fire or exploding at its heavily flooded plant." Rowe added that the company now expects chemicals on site to catch fire or explode within the next six days. Since the plant remains flooded by about six feet of water, "the company has no way to prevent" this worst-case outcome.

Anticipating the worst, the company earlier evacuated all remaining workers, while Harris County ordered the evacuation of residents in a 1.5-mile radius of the plant that makes organic chemicals.

Previously, Arkema said that it was working with Homeland Security and the state of Texas to set up a command post near the site. As we reported on Tuesday, Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, wrote on Twitter that the Crosby plant "is in danger of fire/explosion. The local area is being evacuated. Stay out of area."

Previously Reuters added that other chemical plants have also shuttered production in Texas because of the hurricane, however none are in such a precarious state. These include Anglo-Swiss chemicals firm Ineos Group Holdings, which said it has been forced to shut down facilities in Texas. Chocolate Bayou Works and Battleground Manufacturing Complex, and INEOS Nitriles’ Green Lake facility are following hurricane procedures and are temporarily shut down, spokesman Charles Saunders said. Huntsman Corp said it has closed six chemical plants in Texas, along with its global headquarters and advanced technology center in Texas.

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vollderlerby's picture

Send in the looters

Chuck Norris's picture

This is eerily similar to what Janet's gonna say to Trump when she calls to explain how the economy is going up flames because of the Fed's flood of money

Honey-Badger's picture

What moron builds a chemical plant in a flood plain and what kind of idiotic government authorizes....oh wait scratch that last one.

Handful of Dust's picture

Which way are the prevaling winds blowing?

sincerely_yours's picture

Sounds more like someone's planning something to cash in on the insurance money.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

This is what we Yankees call "Jewish lightening".

El Oregonian's picture

Explosive rains, and thus it rules the day.

NoDebt's picture

Please give me YouTube live feed link of the plant.

I have five gallons of hot coffee, a bunch of meth and I'm staying up until that bitch blows.


stizazz's picture

It blows, owners collect insurance & order products cheaper from China, while US economy crumbles & Trump continues warmongering policy.

Automatic Choke's picture

A big explosion with advanced notice?

CNN must be wetting themselves.

vato poco's picture

"no way to prevent imminent explosion"

back in the olden days, that was known as a " major design flaw". wonder how the soon-to-be plaintiffs & their lawyers will characterize it?

HowdyDoody's picture

If it does blow, there will be a few more broken windows. That is good for the economy, apparently.


jeff montanye's picture

and speaking of jewish lightning, today is the fiftieth anniversary of the israeli attack on the u.s.s. liberty.

and speaking of things that you'd expect to blow up but haven't, there's this:

what's happening to imran awan?

DWD-MOVIE's picture

I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do…

land_of_the_few's picture

Smooooke on the waaaater .....

Got The Wrong No's picture

Someone tell CNN that 500 Feet is a safe distance to catch the action. 

rosiescenario's picture

....and then add, "But real newsmen would want to be closer, such as Anderson."

hitex's picture

unfortunately, that may not be close enough, 500 ft may only maim or seriously injure for this type of explosion (may kill too) - but lets  go with 100 ft, itll be the VIP section 

creeko's picture

Where's the female reptile from the BBC to tell us that it has already exploded (but actually hasn't)?

(WTC 7 for those of you keeping score at home)

rosiescenario's picture

They should send down their entire "news" staff.....

Taint Boil's picture

So .... are the chemicals going react with the water and explode or are the chemicals submersed under the water going to suddenly catch on fire then explode. Seriously, this science / chemistry stuff is tough.... But no worries,  when the chemicals explode from all the water there will be plenty of water around to put the fire out.

stormsailor's picture

ever seen what sodium or potassium do when they come in contact with water?  it will be entertaining

Ms No's picture

I had to watch video in a safety class once.  A driver is down because of an ammonia tank.  Cop goes to check on him and goes down too.  Its bad shit.  You can hear his breathing shutting down.  Its pretty sad he seemed like a good cop.  I have worked in all kinds of plants and I have had to watch a lot of deaths on TV from chemical poisoning and a few in real life.  I wanted you guys to share in my misery.  You're welcome.  ( :


Peanut Butter Engineer's picture

It's staged training video, there credits for the video.

land_of_the_few's picture

It's lack of cooling, not dunking stuff in water. Although that sounds kinda fun too.

Sanity Bear's picture

lots of shit explodes when it touches water... try it with bacon grease*

* at your own risk. You assume all liability.

stocktivity's picture

No. They have to be kept refrigerated. When they reach a certain temp....Kapow!!!

tmosley's picture

Ammonia reacts with atmospheric oxygen to form water and NOx. Organic peroxides self-react to produce lots of gasses and heat (ie they will probably explode, depending on the conditions). Dunno about the other stuff without looking it up.

hitex's picture

no, the chemicals must be kept below a certain temperature (which is well below ambient air), they become highly volatile and explosive the warmer they get. thats why there's a time frame but no certainty on when exactly

land_of_the_few's picture

So presumably they don't need observers sitting with a cigarette saying, "yeah, man it probably is gonna go wrong"

shovelhead's picture

Highly volatile chem needs refrigeration to remain stable.

Guess what failed.

leftcoastfool's picture

Why don't they cut holes in the tops of the containers and start dropping dry ice into them?  Yeah, it would be a major pain in the ass to keep at it until the chemicals could be moved to a secure cold storage, but it would be better than some huge explosion...

stocktivity's picture

Where's that "Red" guy? Call him in. He'd of fixed it.

Seeing Red's picture

Who me?  I'm not a fan of bad engineering either for your information.

It's a little late to change the plant design or location BTW.

land_of_the_few's picture

Yeah he could fix the expected volatiles fire with some dynamite :D

Socratic Dog's picture

A big explosion with advanced notice?

Just like 9/11.

SoDamnMad's picture

Get Wolf up close quick and make sure Becky Andersen has her signs all printed and he demonstrators lined up.

land_of_the_few's picture

Paging broken clock news company!

Nobody For President's picture

No way to prevent it from blowing, we will moniter it remotely.

How very French of them.

stormsailor's picture

well, they wanted to go ahead and get the surrender out of the way

land_of_the_few's picture

Very French of them to not run around like headless chickens.

Geoengineering_Genocide's picture

And while everyone is distracted with this shit, the planet continues to spiral out of control.

mathew913's picture

u must be sissy snowflake still crspping dispers cuz trump kicked hillarys ass BAD!

813kml's picture

It's part of NASA's plan to get rid of flood waters.

TwelveOhOne's picture

Can't do that; they're above and below this bathysphere that we exist in.

radio man's picture

Be careful what you wish for,  your meth lab could go up with it. Please pass the popcorn. 

shovelhead's picture

Calling Walter White...

Cleanup on aisle 3.