by Staff Writers
Houston (AFP) Sept 3, 2017
A French chemical company that owns a plant in Texas that was flooded during Hurricane Harvey said Sunday it would deliberately ignite several trailers containing volatile materials instead of letting them catch fire on their own.
Two massive blazes have already broken out at the Arkema plant in Crosby, northeast of Houston, sending thick plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky as authorities maintained an evacuation zone of 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) around the plant.
Arkema has previously downplayed safety concerns to the surrounding community, citing the remoteness of the plant and the large exclusion zone around it.
Plant employees had left the volatile chemicals in nine truck-sized containers after the storm cut power to cool the organic peroxides used to make plastics and other materials.
"There is clear visual evidence that the chemicals in the trailers are degrading but they have failed to ignite completely," the company said in a statement.
"We are concerned that, without ignition, we can't determine if the hazard has been fully eliminated. In order to maintain control of the situation, proactive measures to safely cause ignition of the remaining trailers through controlled means are being taken.
"These measures do not pose any additional risk to the community, and both Arkema and members of the unified command believe this is the safest approach."
The first of the nine containers caught fire and burned for nine hours overnight Wednesday into Thursday, while the second caught ablaze Friday.
Venice (AFP) Sept 1, 2017
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