CROSBY (CBSDFW.COM) – Many evacuated residents of Crosby say the failure of a local chemical plant to prepare for Hurricane Harvey has put them all at serious risk.
Early Thursday morning a trailer containing organic peroxide caught fire at the flood-hit Arkema chemical plant northeast of Houston.
Fifteen Harris County sheriff deputies were taken to the hospital after the overnight explosion with eye and throat irritations.
Late Thursday Arkema in a written statement said “there is evidence suggesting other trailers will soon burn.”
There are eight other trailers on-site filled with peroxide just like the one that exploded Thursday morning.
Without power due to floodwaters, emergency officials said the volatile chemicals in those trailers will overheat and catch fire.
At this point, Arkema said it is not safe for workers to remove the trailers from the flooded plant and the trailers will be allowed to burn.
Arkema President Richard Rennard publicly apologized for the situation at a news briefing on Thursday.
“All of the employees at Arkema want to apologize for the impact that this is having on the local community,” he said.
The apology from the plant’s president, however, means little to Crosby resident Truman Higdon, who is one of dozens forced to evacuate.
“They could have prevented what is happening now,” he said. “Why would the people put that there when they could have got it out of there. They knew the water was coming but they failed to do anything.”
The mile-and-a-half evacuation perimeter around the facility will remain in effect for possibly as long as a week according to emergency officials.
Earlier this year OSHA completed an inspection of the Crosby plant and found ten “serious” safety violations. Arkema was fined $108,000 by the federal agency. The fine was later reduced to a $92,000 penalty according to federal records.