Monday, September 4, 2017

Arkema Chemical Plant Update

It seems that Arkema was somehow able to ignite the remaining trailers containing volatile chemicals:
Alex Johnson. (2017, September 4). Arkema Ignites Remaining Trailers at Texas Chemical Site, Evacuation Zone Lifted. NBC
An evacuation zone in place around a Harvey-wrecked chemical plant outside of Houston was lifted Monday, the company said, after it ignited and burned the six remaining trailers containing highly flammable materials on site.
The controlled burn at Arkema Inc. was ordered Sunday to allow crews to stop waiting and get to work assessing the threat at the flooded facility, authorities said. 
Yesterday morning I was not able to find updates on the plant. I suspect they kept the news media from covering the process of "igniting" the remaining trailers.

I read that air monitoring was ongoing, but I also saw quite a few efforts to trivialize effects from chemical exposures despite other officials' stated concerns and I found the 1.5 mile evacuation zone inadequate:
Julia Bagg, Alex Johnson and Jason Cumming (2017, August 31). Crosby, Texas, Chemical Plant Explodes Twice, Arkema Group Says. NBC News,
...When asked if the fumes coming from the plant are toxic, Rennard told reporters that the smoke itself is what's potentially dangerous.

"They're noxious, certainly," he said. "I don't know the composition of the smoke."

Gonzalez also downplayed any immediate threat.

"It is not anything toxic," he said. "It is not anything that we feel is a danger to the community at all."

Brock Long, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said at a separate news conference Thursday that evacuations are based on "plume modeling," which is used to predict the geographic extent of a hazard area from an explosion.

"By all means, the plume is incredibly dangerous," Long said of what's occurring in Crosby.
Hiroko Tabuchi and Sheila Kaplan (2017, August 31). A Sea of Health and Environmental Hazards in Houston’s Floodwaters. The New York Times,

Officials in Houston are just beginning to grapple with the health and environmental risks that lurk in the waters dumped by Hurricane Harvey, a stew of toxic chemicals, sewage, debris and waste that still floods much of the city.

Flooded sewers are stoking fears of cholera, typhoid and other infectious diseases. Runoff from the city’s sprawling petroleum and chemicals complex contains any number of hazardous compounds. Lead, arsenic and other toxic and carcinogenic elements may be leaching from some two dozen Superfund sites in the Houston area.

Porfirio Villarreal, a spokesman for the Houston Health Department, said the hazards of the water enveloping the city were self-evident.

“There’s no need to test it,” he said. “It’s contaminated. There’s millions of contaminants.”
How can we prevent such eco-disasters in the future if we don't face up to the ones in the present?

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