Chemical containers in a damaged Texas chemical plant will be ignited in a proactive safety move, the company said in a statement Sunday.
The Arkema site in Crosby, Texas, has been shut down since Friday because of Hurricane Harvey, and the company says chemical refrigeration has been compromised due to high water.
There are about 3,800 people and 1,300 households within a three-mile radius of Arkema, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and the company initially said the "potential for a chemical reaction leading to fire and/or explosion within the site confines" was very real.
"There is clear visual evidence that the chemicals in the trailers are degrading but they have failed to ignite completely," Arkema said in the statement. "We are concerned that, without ignition, we can't determine if the hazard has been fully eliminated. In order to maintain control of the situation, proactive measures to safely cause ignition of the remaining trailers through controlled means are being taken."
The company said the 1.5-mile evacuation zone is still in place.
Arkema makes organic peroxides used by the plastics and rubber industries, and the plant's chemical inventory includes acetone, benzoyl chloride, chlorodifluromethane, cumene, cumene hydroperpoxide, DI(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, ethybenzene, ethylene glycol, hydrochloric acid, mercury, methyl ethylketone, n-hexane, sodium hydroxide, sodium sulfate, sulfuric acid and butyl alcohol.
If the materials are not kept at low temperatures they can combust.
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