Harris Co. attorney to sue Arkema to recover costs for response to week-long incident

On Tuesday, Harris County Commissioners gave the go-ahead for the county attorney to try and recoup the costs of responding to a series of explosions at Arkema's Crosby chemical plant.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Harris County plans to sue Arkema after explosions at a Crosby chemical plant.

Harris County Commissioners gave the go-ahead Tuesday for the county attorney to try and recoup the costs of responding to a series of explosions at Arkema's Crosby chemical plant.

The explosions began Aug. 31 after containers storing organic peroxides overheated following a power outage at the plant. Arkema executives blamed the loss of power on flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Related: Chemicals spark fires at Crosby plant, officials say chemical is 'noxious'

In all, six containers ignited, releasing chemicals into the air and forcing the evacuation of homes and businesses in a one and a half-mile radius.

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan will file the lawsuit.

“The company’s lack of preparedness caused a crisis on top of this horrific storm,” Ryan said.

It is the second lawsuit to be filed against one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers. The first was filed by several first responders who maintained the evacuation zone but became ill following the explosions and were hospitalized.

Arkema has yet to say exactly what chemicals were released when nearly half-a-million tons of organic peroxides exploded, but investigations conducted by the Harris County Pollution Control Services, as well as the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office uncovered serious violations under the Texas Clean Air Act, according to a news release from the county attorney's office.

Along with attempting to recover the cost of responding to the week-long incident, the county's lawsuit also will ask the court to review Arkema’s environmental practices and its emergency preparedness plan.

“Dozens of first responders were required by this emergency caused by Arkema,” Ryan said, “when their services were desperately needed elsewhere.”

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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