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EPA Statement on Expected Fire at Arkema Facility in Crosby, Texas

09/01/2017
Contact Information: 

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the following statement regarding an additional chemical fire at the Arkema facility in Crosby, Texas this evening:

"An EPA emergency response surveillance aircraft just flew through the fire at the Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas. The aircraft is monitoring for any airborne toxic chemical. Imagery reviewed in the aircraft clearly shows a strong fire that is west of the building that burned yesterday. Preliminary analysis of data is showing that although the fire has extreme intensity generating smoke, no high levels of toxic chemical have been detected. Everyone in the area should follow the safety instruction of local authorities, specifically staying out of the evacuation zone, and avoiding smoke and flood waters.”

Additional background:

It is the understanding of personnel on the ground that the remaining trailers holding chemicals at Arkema’s facility in Crosby, Texas are at risk of catching fire over the next few days. The refrigeration units have been compromised due to the massive flooding and therefore we expect these containers to catch fire similar to the way the first trailer did.

First responders are outside the evacuation zone, but remain in the area, for quick response to ensure the safety of the community around the facility. After assessing the situation, local, state and federal response managers concluded that the safest course of action was to allow the remaining containers to catch fire, rather than try to send people to move them or put firefighters and first responders directly in harm’s way. 

We continue to monitor smoke and air quality; the potential for additional fires in the area; and, have aerial assets ready to be deployed, as needed.  

As with all smoke, people can limit the potential for adverse health effects by limiting their exposure. This includes staying indoors with doors and windows closed and running the air conditioning (if possible) with the fresh intake closed. If it is absolutely necessary to be outdoors, try to move out of the plume of smoke and minimize heavy work, exercise, or children’s playtime.

On Wednesday, the first of nine refrigerated trailers of organic peroxide caught fire at the Arkema facility in Crosby, Texas. Following this fire, EPA sent aerial surveillance aircraft to test resulting smoke and did ground-level air quality monitoring.  EPA’s plane instrumentation is capable of measuring 78 different chemicals, including peroxides. Neither testing methods found toxic concentration levels in areas away from the evacuated facility.

Local officials are maintaining a 1.5-mile area of evacuation to assure that the public is protected.  Air monitoring has confirmed that this is sufficient based on current conditions and anticipated events.

EPA and TCEQ are providing direct support to Michael Sims, Incident Commander, Crosby Volunteer Fire Department and Chief Bob Royall, of the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office who are leading a coordinated local, state and federal effort as part of the Unified Command to control the fire at the Arkema facility in Crosby, Texas.

The latest information on Crosby, Texas:
http://www.arkema-americas.com/en/social-responsibility/incident-page-2/