Crosby, TX – The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), has released a 2-dimension animation video covering the explosion at the Arkema plant which manufactures organic peroxides.
Flooding from Hurricane Harvey disabled the refrigeration system at the Plant. The following day people within a 1.5-mile radius were evacuated. As the trailers increased in temperature, the peroxides spontaneously combusted on August 31, 2017. Officials ignited the remaining trailers, on Sunday, September 3, 2017. The evacuation zone was lifted on September 4.
The company had pulled its employees from the facility earlier, out of concern for their safety, and warned that it expected more of the chemical storage containers to rupture as the materials degrade and burn.
The sheriff’s department says that 15 of its deputies went to the hospital after getting close to the Plant and that all of them had since been released. The agency said the deputies inhaled a “non-toxic irritant.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists organic peroxides under two hazard categories: one for fire, and one for “exploding bomb.”
“Explosions of peroxides have caused many fatal accidents,” says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In terms of toxicity, the agency says they are “often highly toxic and irritating to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.”
Arkema says it had planned for the worst — but that Harvey’s impact surpassed those plans, flooding the facility with 6 feet of water.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives eventually ruled that fire was deliberately set. The water poured onto the blaze by the volunteer firemen very likely facilitated the explosion, which blew up with the force of between 7.5 and 10 tons of TNT.