11 plaintiffs – residents and first responders – join suit against Arkema for Crosby chemical plant

CROSBY, Texas - Eleven plaintiffs joined the $1 million lawsuit Wednesday against Arkema after explosions at its chemical plant in Crosby earlier this month.

The additional plaintiffs include residents and first responders who all suffered in the aftermath of the explosions after the plant was flooded by Hurricane Harvey.

The lawsuit alleges after the fire and explosions at the Arkema facility, residents complained of “upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia,” as well as burning eyes and throats.

An addition to the lawsuit states once residents returned to their homes on Labor Day, they were exposed to a “laundry list of chemicals remaining in the air.”

The suit also accuses air monitoring company Bureau Veritas of failing to warn first responders of the dangers of exposure to the air after the explosions.

First responders maintained a 1.5-mile evacuation radius around Arkema. The initial lawsuit states that Arkema did not make them aware of the initial explosions early in the morning of Aug. 31.

The explosions at the plant occurred after more than a trillion gallons of water fell on Southeast Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Built in a floodplain, Arkema’s Crosby plant was flooded by 6 feet of water, causing backup generators to fail and refrigeration units to shut down. That meant about half-a-million pounds of organic peroxide was left to overheat and eventually ignite.

When they did, big, black plumes of smoke rose from the containers.

The sheriff’s department announced later on Aug. 31 that 15 deputies went to the hospital after inhaling a “non-toxic irritant.”

The lawsuit also states the first responders were vomiting and unable to breathe.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages based on Arkema was negligent, among many things, of “failing to provide the public and first responders accurate information on the chemicals at risk of exploding.”

The lawsuit now also states Arkema’s CEO also misrepresented the severity of the issue by downplaying the “risks associated with explosions, fire and toxicity of the chemicals.”

It quotes Arkema president Richard Rennard as stating, “Toxicity is a relative thing.”

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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