August, 2017

This is a repeating event

201729AugAll DayArkema Fire 2017Arkema Crosby (US-TX) Origin: CSB Lessons:Emergency Preparedness,Process Knowledge,Risk Assessment,Stakeholder EngagementIndustry:ChemicalsCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:Natural event

Summary

The Arkema Crosby facility is located within the 100-year and 500-year flood plain. Extensive flooding caused by heavy rainfall from Hurricane Harvey exceeded the equipment design elevations and caused the plant to lose power, backup power, and critical organic peroxide refrigeration systems. Consequently, Arkema used its standby refrigerated trailers to keep the organic peroxide products cool. This flooding also eventually forced all Arkema’s employees to evacuate from the facility. A Unified Command established a 1.5-mile evacuation zone around the Arkema facility and helped transport residents out of this zone for their safety.

On August 31, 2017, organic peroxide products stored inside a refrigerated trailer decomposed, causing the peroxides and the trailer to burn. Twenty-one people sought medical attention from exposure to fumes generated by the decomposing products when the vapor travelled across a public highway adjacent to the plant. Emergency response officials initially decided to keep this highway open, despite the fact that it ran through the established evacuation zone around the Arkema facility, because this road served as an important route for hurricane recovery efforts. Over the next several days, a second fire and a controlled burn conducted by the Unified Command consumed eight more trailers holding Arkema’s remaining organic peroxide products that required low-temperature storage. Over the course of the three fires, in excess of 350,000 pounds of organic peroxide combusted. As a result, more than 200 residents living within 1.5 miles of the facility who had evacuated the area could not return home for a week.

KEY ISSUES:
• UNDERSTAND SITE FLOOD VULNERABILITY
• CONDUCT A FLOOD RISK ASSESSMENT
• STRENGTHEN FLOOD RESILIENCY
• IMPROVE EMERGENCY RESPONSE

ROOT CAUSES:
1. No PHA or facility siting requirement to consider flood risk
2. Organic peroxides not covered by EPA RMP
3. Trailers without telemetry


Image credit: CSB

Origin

CSBUS Chemical Safety Board

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