A fire or explosion looks likely in Crosby, Texas, where a chemical plant owned by Arkema Inc. now sits submerged under six feet of floodwater. "A small ride-out crew of 11 people remained on site for some days", the company said in a statement.
The plant has been without electric service since Sunday.
The company said it tried to transfer products from warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers, but Tuesday afternoon it decided the danger was great enough to evacuate workers.
Similar chemicals actually caught fire at the now infamous fertilizer plant in West, and the explosion left the site and the surrounding town looking like a bomb had been dropped on it.
Many oil refineries and chemical plants shut down production ahead of the storm but there were still reports of an "unbearable chemical smell" in the Houston area.
The plant, operated by Arkema Inc., produces organic peroxide, which must be kept cool to avoid potential problems, according to KTRK-TV.
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The company has evacuated all employees, and Crosby officials are evacuating all people within a 1.5 mile radius of the plant.
The plant's owner said the situation at its plant in Crosby about 40km north east of Houston "has become serious".
"Arkema is limited in what it can do to address the site conditions until the storm abates", Smith said. "The County will continue to monitor the situation and work with company officials". The company said in a site status update that regulatory agencies have also been notified of the situation.
"We have no higher priority than the safety of our employees, neighbors and the environment".
Because of the seriousness of the issue, Arkema is working with the Department of Homeland Security and the state of Texas to set up a command post near their Crosby site. "We have been working without pause to keep our materials safe".
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