Harris County Will Sue Arkema For Chemical Fires At Crosby Plant During Harvey

A County official says the company “should have been more proactive” in the handling of the incident.

Fire at the Arkema chemical company in Crosby, Texas.

Harris County will sue Arkema for the environmental incident that started in its Crosby (Texas) plant on August 31st after the Commissioners Court approved Tuesday providing funds to pay for filing the lawsuit.

During the incident, which continued for four days, according to a news release from the office of Harris County Attorney, the plant experienced several chemical fires after it was inundated by floodwaters from hurricane Harvey.

Rock Owens, head of the Environmental Division for the Harris County Attorney's Office, says the goals of the lawsuit are getting a court order to make Arkema be in compliance with Texas’ air quality laws, as well as a civil penalty for the company and making it reimburse Harris County for the expenditures it incurred in during the incident.

Owens detailed those expenditures have to do with the county's Fire Marshall advising the Crosby Fire Department during the incident, as well as the fact personnel from the Harris County Sheriff's Office was in charge of guarding the 1.5 mile security perimeter that was established and staffers from the county's Pollution Control Department have investigated Arkema’s environmental violations.

“Dozens of first responders and county employees were forced to go and handle this crisis in the middle of a hurricane when they could have been deployed elsewhere. It was a real mess. It shouldn’t have happened,” Owens told Houston Public Media and added Arkema “should have been more proactive” in the handling of the incident.

Owens added the county is working on the finishing touches of the lawsuit, which will be filed this week or early next week.

Several first responders involved in the response to the August 31st incident, as well as some Crosby residents, are also suing Arkema.

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