Harris County Attorney to sue Arkema, Inc.

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The Harris County Attorney's Office released the following statement on Tuesday:

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan today received approval from the County Commissioners to file a lawsuit against Arkema, Inc., whose Crosby plant released unknown chemicals when their containers exploded. The chemical release required residents and businesses within a one and a half mile radius to evacuate for several days.

The Arkema plant located at 18000 Crosby Eastgate Road lost power when it flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Workers were unable to keep the chemicals at the appropriate temperature and the containers began exploding August 31 and continued burning for four days.

Investigations conducted by the Harris County Pollution Control Services and the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office uncovered serious violations of the Texas Clean Air Act. Ryan will seek to recover the County’s costs for responding to the week-long incident. The County Attorney is also asking a court to review the company’s environmental practices and its emergency preparedness plan.

Arkema has refused to say exactly what chemicals were released during the fire. A number of first responders became ill while keeping residents clear of the evacuation zone.

“The company’s lack of preparedness caused a crisis on top of this horrific storm,” said County Attorney Ryan. “Dozens of first responders were required by this emergency caused by Arkema when their services were desperately needed elsewhere.”

Janet Smith with Arkema, Inc. issued the following statement to FOX 26 News:

Arkema has not been contacted by Harris County about a lawsuit -- we would hope they would communicate with us about their concerns before taking such an action.