One week after local residents went home, Arkema reflects on the events in Crosby
With Harvey, Texas has just had to endure a natural disaster of a totally exceptional magnitude. The consequences of the torrential rains in the region and the very severe flooding that struck the Crosby site was unprecedented. The site found itself under 5-7 ft (almost 2 meters) of water for several days.
It manufactures organic peroxides, a range of very reactive products some of which require cold storage to prevent them from breaking down and catching fire.
From start to finish, our first priority was the safety of employees and neighbors. Many Arkema employees worked without pause to resolve this situation, acting in the same honorable and heroic way that thousands of other citizens in Harris County did when confronted with the unprecedented tragedy that is Harvey. They did everything they could to protect the public, while fighting fast-rising flood waters at the plant.
We cooperated completely with all first responders and the numerous regulatory agencies working with us to keep the public safe. Once the flood waters eliminated the primary and backup refrigeration systems from the site, Arkema Inc. took the decision in liaison with the local authorities to let the organic peroxide burn themselves out. We warned the public well in advance that fires would occur and of the danger of breathing the smoke from the fires at our site. We pleaded with the public, for their own safety, to respect the 1.5 mile (2.4 km) evacuation zone imposed by the unified command well prior to any fire.
A command center was set up outside the safety zone to oversee the situation and to secure the site, manned by representatives from the local government authorities and Arkema personnel. Accordingly, these teams were able to regularly monitor, night and day, the situation on the site, the condition of the refrigerated trailers, and the impact on the environment of the smoke released from the combustion, either spontaneous or induced, of the various trailers.
This management process ensured continuous centralization of information as well as close coordination between the authorities and Arkema’s teams, which led to the site being made definitively secure on Sunday September 3rd 2017.
Today the site is largely intact except for the damage linked to the flooding. There were no explosions at the plant. With few limited exceptions, the fires only impacted the organic peroxides themselves and the refrigerated trailers in which they were stored. The site is being inspected, and to date and as it relates to the fires, there are limited effects on the plant’s buildings, storage facilities or production units.
We’re working hard to help those evacuated to get their lives back to normal. Many days ago we set up a call center so that local residents could call us to get our latest update or to learn about resources available to them. We also set up an assistance center in Crosby, where we have helped hundreds of families meet immediate needs such as housing and transportation. And we established a claim center for residents to make claims for reimbursement as they return to their homes.
Arkema salutes the courage and professional conduct of the internal and external teams who worked closely with the authorities to allow local residents to return home in complete safety.
Together with the industry as a whole, Arkema will learn from these events in terms of maintaining refrigerated storage for organic peroxides in the event of a natural disaster, even considering those which, like Harvey, are of an unprecedented magnitude.
Meanwhile, while regretting the impact caused to people who had to be evacuated from their homes because of this exceptional situation, Arkema reaffirms that it took, right from the outset, the necessary measures, in liaison with the local authorities, to ensure the safety of local residents and the first responders. Arkema will defend itself to assert its rights and its good faith.
Arkema reiterates that, wherever it operates in the world, it places safety and the protection of people and the environment at the heart of its priorities, making them a major focus of its Corporate Social Responsibility policy.
Arkema stands by the residents of Texas who, following Hurricane Harvey, are having to cope with an extremely challenging situation, and is donating $500,000 to help those people affected by the disaster.