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Plume from flooded Texas chemical plant incredibly dangerous, warns FEMA

Officials have ordered residents within 1.5 miles (three kilometers) of the facility to evacuate.

world Updated: Aug 31, 2017 20:17 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse, Washington
Texas,Federal Emergency Management Agency,FEMA
A chemical plant is photographed from a nearby highway during Tropical Storm Harvey in Deer Park, Texas, US August 27, 2017. (REUTERS)

The plume of fumes from a flooded Texas chemical plant is “incredibly dangerous,” the head of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said on Thursday.

Two explosions were reported overnight at the chemical plant in the town of Crosby and officials have ordered residents within 1.5 miles (three kilometers) of the facility to evacuate.

“The bottom line is that we do what’s called plume modeling,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long said at a press briefing. “And that’s what we base a lot of the evacuations on. And so by all means, yes, the plume is incredibly dangerous.”

The plant operated by Arkema Inc produces organic peroxides, which have a number of commercial uses, including plastics, pharmaceuticals and construction materials.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office said there had been “a series of chemical reactions at the @Arkema_Inc Crosby facility” overnight.

“There has been intermittent smoke, please stay clear of the area,” it said.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said one deputy had been taken to the hospital after inhaling fumes from the plant, with nine others drove themselves there as a “precaution.”

In a later tweet, the sheriff’s office said the smoke inhaled by the 10 deputies near the plant in Crosby was believed to be non-toxic.

Arkema released a statement saying “exposure to organic peroxides may cause eye, skin and/or respiratory irritation.”

“Organic peroxides are extremely flammable and, as agreed with public officials, the best course of action is to let the fire burn itself out,” Arkema said.

Crosby lies about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston.

First Published: Aug 31, 2017 20:17 IST