The city of Houston has certainly seen better days recently, as they continue to get ravaged by flood waters that resulted from Hurricane Harvey dropping an insanely high amount of rainfall on the city and other parts of Texas.
People have been losing their homes, their possessions, necessities, even their lives as a result of this massive storm. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the city was also rocked by explosions from a chemical plant early Thursday morning.
The explosions sent a plume of smoke flying into the air that could, due to its composition, irritate the eye, providing a fresh new hazard in the wake of Harvey.
The owner of the plant also warned the city that more explosions could be on the way, due to a loss of refrigeration that was was causing chemicals stored in the facility to catch fire.
While the smoke from these chemicals may cause irritation, the Environmental Protection Agency, along with local officials tested the smoke to see if it posed a serious risk to the health of citizens. Fortunately, that does not appear to be the case.
As far as whether or not anyone was injured in the blast, it seems there haven’t been any reports of injury, which is good news in light of the less than stellar week the community of Houston has been experiencing.
The Chicago Tribune has more:
Dozens of workers were pulled out of the Arkema Inc. plant before the hurricane hit, and a small crew of 11 that had been left behind was evacuated before the blasts for fear of just such a disaster. Officials had also ordered people living within 1½ miles (2.4 kilometers) to leave on Tuesday.
Fire and plant officials said the substances that caught fire were organic peroxides, a family of volatile compounds used for making a variety of products, including pharmaceuticals and construction materials.
Earlier this week, French-owned Arkema warned of the risk of an explosion at the plant about 25 miles northeast of Houston, saying Harvey’s floodwaters had knocked out power and backup generators, disabling the refrigeration needed to keep the organic peroxides stable.
On Thursday, Rich Rennard, an executive at Arkema, said the chemical compounds were transferred to refrigerated containers after power was lost. But he said those containers failed too, causing the chemicals in one unit to burn.
The plant is along a stretch near Houston that contains one of the biggest concentrations of refineries, pipelines and chemical plants in the country. Houston is the nation’s fourth-largest city, with a population of 2.3 million.
As of now, a spokeswoman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has said that there have been no reports of similar incidents or trouble at other facilities that exist within the zone where the hurricane hit.
The chemicals that caused the explosion were inside of a tractor-trailer when they caught fire, causing flames to shoot up to 30-40 feet in height.
A sheriff and a few of his deputies who arrived on the scene suffered slight eye irritation from the smoke, with the Texas environmental agency stating that the smoke can also impair breathing and inflame the nose and throat.
The city of Houston has certainly been through a lot with all of the damage from Hurricane Harvey, which makes efforts to help those affected by this disaster even more important.
There are many charities that have been set up for folks to donate money to the individuals who have lost most of their possessions and their homes in this awful storm, so please consider finding some way to lend a hand to those who need one.
Prayers and thoughts continue to go out to all those effected.