Hurricane Harvey

Arkema’s Chemical Plant Flooded After Harvey Faces Another Lawsuit

Residents complain of medical problems and contaminated soil and water after fires at the Crosby plant.

The Arkema, Inc. chemical plant east of Houston. Multiple fires ignited at the plant after Hurricane Harvey, when power supplies needed to keep chemicals refrigerated failed due to flooding.

A Houston-area chemical plant is facing yet another lawsuit, the second against the plant from nearby residents.

After Harvey flooded the Arkema, Inc., plant near Crosby, Texas, residents claim their properties were contaminated with toxins. In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Houston, plaintiffs claim smoke from the fires led to “mysterious black ash” raining down on their land. One resident claims to have recovered jars full of it after the fires.

The people suing, which include a Texas state trooper and a sheriff’s deputy, say they suffered a variety of medical problems.

“One gentleman has some very disturbing scaling and rashes that he got after he mowed his yard,” said Kevin Thompson’s an attorney handling the case. “It’s limited primarily at this point to respiratory difficulties and skin rashes.”

The suit claims the problems weren’t just from the chemical fires. The lawyers plan to argue that toxins that spilled out of tanks at the plant during the flooding flowed onto surrounding properties.

Arkema said it would not comment on “specific ongoing litigation,” but in an email Wednesday morning, the company said it had not discovered the kind of toxic hazards described in the lawsuit.

“Based on testing results received to date, Arkema has not detected chemicals in off-site ash, soil, surface or drinking water samples that exceeded Residential Protective Concentration Levels established by TCEQ for soil and groundwater,” company spokesperson Janet Smith said.

“We do not know what these lawyers tested for. We are cooperating with authorities in ongoing investigations and we will not comment further on these lawyers’ accusations,” she added.

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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