Families being evacuated near Crosby chemical plant

More rain, more dead: Harvey floods keeps Houston paralyzed

A chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, is at risk of exploding, thanks to Harvey's floodwaters. The cause, per the Reuters story, is flood damage sustained by backup generators - which were in use after the storm knocked out power to the area. "There is a potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire at the facility, which could produce a large amount of black smoke", Fire Marshals said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Although the plant closed Friday, the company now has 11 employees who are scheduled to ride out Hurricane Harvey, the Chronicle reported.

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The plant manufactures organic peroxides and ammonia, key ingredients in biodegradable herbicides, pesticides and animal feed supplements. The plant's employees initially tried to move the volatile chemicals from warehouses into refrigerated containers powered by backup generators, but as the flooding intensified, some of the generators failed and the company chose to evacuate all workers on Tuesday. By Monday, it had received 40 inches of rain. The company says high water in the area is unusual, however.

The company said it shut down the Crosby site before Harvey made landfall last week, but a crew of 11 had been kept onsite.

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"And as a result, critical refrigeration needed for our materials on site is lost", said Rich Rowe, Arkema's North American operations on Wednesday, according to the Houston Chronicle. "The County will continue to monitor the situation and work with company officials". "We also have been in contact with other regulatory authorities, who are aware of the situation".

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.

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The reason this was such a big deal is because the primary challenge to getting the Arkema plant through the storm safely has been ensuring the products, which are supposed to be stored at very low temperatures, keep cool.

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