One day after two explosions rocked its flooded plant in Crosby, Texas, French chemicals giant Arkema said it was on "high alert" as more fires could start at the doomed facility at any moment, according to VP of US manufacturing Daryl Roberts who spoke to reporters on Friday morning. In a separate statement, that company said that "we continue to monitor the temperature in the remaining trailers and there is evidence suggesting that other trailers will soon burn, but there have been no reports of any fires or smoke."
Residents in the vicinity of the Crosby plant, and not only, have grown especially worried about the chemicals contained in the plant, which until recently was only known for holding various forms of organic peroxides. While Arkema executive Richard Rennard said in a press conference Thursday morning that the plant was emitting "noxious" smoke, he would not respond to a question as to whether the smoke from the burning substances was toxic. Incidentally, the following clip shows what happens to the substance if not cooled properly.
Responding to the rising environmental damage concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement on Thursday night they concluded the best course of action was to allow the trailers containing organic peroxide to burn out instead of putting emergency responders in harm's way. It also claimed that its aerial surveillance aircraft did not detect toxic concentrations of chemicals at the site.
"Following this fire, EPA sent aerial surveillance aircraft to test resulting smoke and did ground-level air quality monitoring," read a statement. "EPA’s plane instrumentation is capable of measuring 78 different chemicals, including peroxides. Neither testing methods found toxic concentration levels in areas away from the evacuated facility."
The EPA's blanket dismissal of concerns, however, did little to comfort the local population which has been ordered to evacuate a 1.5 mile perimeter around the plant.
The questioning continued on Friday, when Roberts refused to disclose the exact volumes and location of the chemicals contained in the plant, citing security and terrorism as reasons why.
Instead, aggravating concerns, Arkema said it expects all 500,000 pounds of peroxides on the site to burn. In terms of timing, Arkema Americas CEO Rich Rose said containers filled with chemicals would likely ignite "in a few days" and was unsure how long the situation could last, adding that 1 out of 9 containers with chemicals have already caught fire at Crosby.
Finally, while refusing to provide more details, the company did publish a list of the toxic chemicals stored at the doomed facility on its web site, reposted below.
- 2-ETHYLHEXANOYL CHLORIDE DISTILLED
- ACETIC ACID 84%
- AROMATIC 100
- BENZOYL CHLORIDE
- CAUSTIC POTASH 45%
- CAUSTIC SODA 50%
- CUMENE HYDROPEROXIDE
- CUMENE HYDROPEROXIDE
- DIMETHYL HEXADIENE
- DIMETHYL HEXANEDIOL DH-S
- EPSOM SALTS
- HYDROGEN PEROXIDE 70%
- ISOBUTYLENE ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL
- MINERAL OIL, WHITE
- MINERAL SPIRITS ODORLESS
- MONOSODIUM PHOSPHATE
- NEODECANOYL CHLORIDE >=98.0% UNDISTILLED
- PIVALOYL CHLORIDE 95-100%
- PROPYLENE GLYCOL
- SODIUM BICARBONATE
- SODIUM CARBONATE ANHYDROUS LIGHT
- SODIUM SULFATE ANHYDROUS
- SODIUM SULFITE ANHYDROUS
- SULFUR DIOXIDE
- SULFURIC ACID 93% REAGENT ACS
- T-BUTYL HYDROPEROXIDE 70%
All of these substances are now expected to burn down, many in volatile, explosive fashion, in the coming days.