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Explosions Heard At Flooded Arkema Chemical Plant In Crosby, Texas


There have been reports of multiple explosions at a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas. The plant is about 20 miles northeast of Houston, and it houses volatile chemicals that have to be refrigerated. But after Harvey dumped unprecedented rainfall on the Texas coast, the plant lost both its primary and backup power. Mose Buchele is a reporter with our member station KUT in Austin, and he's been following this situation in Crosby closely. Mose, what's the latest? What can you tell us?

MOSE BUCHELE, BYLINE: So I guess around 2 in the morning, explosions started being reported at the plant. This is an organic peroxide plant. This was expected. Explosions began, and from what we see, the Harris County Sheriff's Deputies Office is saying that 10 deputies have gone to the hospital as a result of kind of being irritated by the smoke from these explosions.

MARTIN: OK. So what exactly are the chemicals we're talking about here?

BUCHELE: Yeah. It's organic peroxide. Basically they make materials that would go into PVC pipes or kitchen countertops. And these chemicals need to be stored at a very low temperature or they're flammable, or they explode. And so that's exactly what we've seen here. Last weekend the plant took on about 40 inches of water, knocked out all the power to the plant. And on Tuesday the last employees were evacuated. Residents were evacuated. And essentially authorities said, there's nothing we can do, we're just going to wait and see and essentially just wait for the thing to blow.

MARTIN: So I mean, is it over now? Have the worst of the explosions happened, or are there are there going to be more?

BUCHELE: Arkema is the French-owned chemical company that runs this plant, and it says that you can expect possibly more explosions. These chemicals are stored in multiple places around the facility.

MARTIN: And is there anything - so there's nothing they can do to prevent this, or any other fires that result?

BUCHELE: Yeah, there could be more explosions, more fires. They've established a perimeter, and they're just waiting to see.

MARTIN: All right. Mose Buchele. He's a reporter from our member station KUT in Austin. He's been following these reports of multiple explosions at a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas. Thanks so much, Mose.

BUCHELE: Thanks, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mose Buchele is the Austin-based broadcast reporter for KUT's NPR partnership StateImpact Texas . He has been on staff at KUT 90.5 since 2009, covering local and state issues. Mose has also worked as a blogger on politics and an education reporter at his hometown paper in Western Massachusetts. He holds masters degrees in Latin American Studies and Journalism from UT Austin.
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