Chemical plant explodes near Houston due to flooding

CROSBY, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) - According to several reports a flooded chemical plant near Houston exploded twice early Thursday morning.

It sent a plume of smoke into the air and triggered a fire that the firm, the Arkema Group, plans to let "burn itself out."

Arkema Group is one of the world's largest chemical companies and had given warning on Wednesday that the plant would catch fire and explode at some point saying there was nothing that could be done about it.

The plant in Crosby, Texas which is about 20 miles northeast of Houston received more than 40 inches of rain by Hurricane Harvey and has been without electricity since Sunday.

"We want local residents to be aware that product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains," the company said in a statement released early Thursday morning. "We have been working closely with public officials to manage the implications of this situation."

Several deputies who had been close to the plant had complained of "headaches and dizziness." Company officials said the smoke is believed to be a "nontoxic irritant," and that the explosions would resemble a gasoline fire.

The plant manufactures organic peroxides commonly used in everyday products like kitchen countertops, industrial paints, polystyrene cups and plates and PVC piping which must be kept cooled. Refrigerators for the plant were out of commission and back up power generators were flooded out.

All residents within one and a half miles of the plant were evacuated on Tuesday, and the Federal Aviation Administration closed air traffic near the site late Wednesday. The National Guard was on the scene, and the Department of Homeland Security set up a command post near the site.

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