UPDATE: Two explosions at Arkema plastic resin facility

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

 Kercoat is a coating for returnable glass containers. Picture: Arkema.
Kercoat is a coating for returnable glass containers. Picture: Arkema.

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Arkema suffered two explosions at its Crosby, Texas, plant today warning there was a risk of further explosions at the site.

The company closed its facility this week announcing the site was heavily flooded and left without electricity following Hurricane Harvey.

The Texas plant produces liquid organic peroxides used in the production of plastic resins, polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC and polyester reinforced fiberglass, and acrylic resins.

"We want local residents to be aware that the product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains​," Arkema said in a statement.

Bottle glass coating

The firm makes bottle glass coating, bleaching and paper coating, films for multilayer packaging or additives for bioplastic packaging in food, among other industries.

Thierry Le Hénaff, CEO, Arkema, said the plant was shut-down on Tuesday.

The facility has had extraordinary levels of rain, receiving approximately 40 inches by Monday afternoon. Back-up generators have largely been inundated with water. A small ride-out crew of 11 people remained on site for some days​,” the company said in a statement.

As of late this afternoon (August 29), the situation at the Crosby site had become serious​. 

To ensure the safety of our ride-out team, all personnel have been evacuated from the site at this time. We are working with the Department of Homeland Security and the State of Texas to set up a command post in a suitable location near our site. We also have been in contact with other regulatory authorities, who are aware of the situation​.”

Le Hénaff added the primary challenge has been maintaining refrigeration for its organic peroxides, which are stored at low temperature.

The site lost refrigeration to all of its cold-storage warehouses when electrical power was lost and back-up generators were flooded. Our team then transferred products from the warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers, and continued to monitor the situation​,” he said.

Back-up product storage containers


At this time, refrigeration on some of our back-up product storage containers has been compromised due to extremely high water, rising to levels that are unprecedented in the Crosby area​. 

Arkema is limited in what it can do to address the site conditions until the storm abates. We are monitoring the temperature of each refrigeration container remotely. 

At this time, while we do not believe there is any imminent danger, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real.  

We have no higher priority than the safety of our employees, neighbors and the environment. We have been working without pause to keep our materials safe​.”

Arkema reported its 2017 first half financial results this month confirming a 13% growth in sales in the second quarter and new record EBITDA for a quarter, close to €400m.

Le Hénaff  said the figures highlight the group’s strategy focused on innovation in Advanced Materials, growth in Adhesives with the integration of Den Braven, and developments in Asia.

The company employs approximately 19,200 people worldwide and operates in about 50 countries with research centers in North America, France and Asia.

Its focus is on advances in lightweight materials, renewable feedstocks, energy generation and storage, water treatment, electronics and 3D printing.

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