31 August 2017Insurance

Texas chemical factory likely to explode due to Harvey

French chemicals producer Arkema warned on Aug. 30 that its Crosby, Texas facility which makes organic peroxides is likely to explode and cause a subsequent intense fire.

Hurricane Harvey developed into a Category 4 and made landfall near Rockport, Texas on Friday, Aug. 25. In addition to direct losses, the storm is causing heavy rainfall and storm surge-related losses along coastal Texas.

The company said that there is an unprecedented 6 feet of water at the plant, which has lost primary power and two sources of emergency backup power.

As a result, Arkema said it has 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 leaves the company no way to prevent it. The site has been evacuated.

The facility produces liquid organic peroxides that are used primarily in the production of plastic resins, polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC and polyester reinforced fiberglass, and acrylic resins.

Organic peroxides may burn if not stored and handled under the right conditions. Low-temperature organic peroxides are flammable liquids that naturally degrade and can become unstable unless refrigerated. If unrefrigerated, the product can rapidly break down and catch fire.

The facility is in a rural area with no hospitals, schools, correctional facilities or recreational areas or industrial/commercial areas in the vicinity.

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