“At approximately 2 am CDT (0700 GMT), we were notified by the Harris County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) of two explosions and black smoke coming from the Arkema Inc plant in Crosby, Texas,” the company statement said.
As a precautionary measure officials had already ordered the evacuation of an area within 1.5 miles (three kilometers) of the organic peroxides plant, which operators had said was at risk of exploding due to a “critical issue” triggered by monster storm Harvey’s torrential rains.
The facility had been evacuated following a dangerous loss of on-site refrigeration.
In its statement, the company said: “unprecedented flooding overwhelmed our primary power and two sources of emergency backup power.”
The facility manufactures compounds with a broad array of commercial uses including plastics, pharmaceuticals and construction materials but which can combust if not cooled to the proper temperatures.
“Organic peroxides are extremely flammable and, as agreed with public officials, the best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out,” Arkema said.
“We want local residents to be aware that product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains. Please do not return to the area within the evacuation zone until local emergency response authorities announce it is safe to do so.”
Crosby lies about 25 miles northeast of Houston.