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Agency: Texas chemical plant unprepared for Hurricane Harvey

Federal investigators say they’ve seen no signs that a Houston-area chemical plant that flooded and partially exploded during Hurricane Harvey considered moving its highly unstable compounds offsite as a precaution.

Arkema Inc.’s emergency response plan listed flooding as a risk there but offered little direction. Records show it says “care shall be taken to be sure water is kept out” of buildings.

As Harvey dumped record-setting rain last August, Arkema’s plant lost power. Backup generators, sitting just 2 feet above ground, were engulfed. Refrigeration systems ultimately failed, leading organic peroxides there to warm and destabilize.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairwoman Vanessa Allen Sutherland said Wednesday at a news conference that “the facility was not prepared for such heavy rainfall.” She mentioned relocating chemicals as a measure companies might use.


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