Houston Matters

What the Arkema Criminal Case Could Mean for Other Companies Preparing for Storms

NPR science reporter Rebecca Hersher tells Houston Matters what she’s learned about what happened before and during the flooding at Arkema.

The Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, where a pressure release after a power failure during Hurricane Harvey caused an evacuation.

Earlier this month, a Harris County grand jury indicted chemical manufacturer Arkema for the release of toxic chemicals after its plant flooded during Harvey. Harris County prosecutors allege Arkema “recklessly” released those toxic chemicals into the air as fires burned within the facility, allegedly making Crosby residents and first-responders sick.

The facility took on six feet of floodwater during the storm, resulting in the failure of the plant’s power generators and causing explosions of those toxic chemicals.

The indictment names the company itself, its CEO, and a plant manager. If convicted, the two men could face up to five years in prison, and the company may see fines of up to a million dollars.

NPR science reporter Rebecca Hersher was recently in Houston to work on a story about this case. She tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty what she’s learned about what happened before and during the flooding at Arkema.

She also discusses what she saw when compiling a story about the San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund site.

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