Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level
and then beat you with experience.” -- Mark Twain

"Stay Strapped or Get Clapped." -- probably not Mr. Rogers

"Let’s eat all of these people!” — Venom

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Corporations Playing Chicken With People's Lives and Homes

Explosions and fires rocked a flood-crippled chemical plant near Houston early Thursday, sending up a plume of acrid, eye-irritating smoke and adding a new hazard to Hurricane Harvey's aftermath.

The plant's owners warned more explosions could follow because a loss of refrigeration was causing chemicals stored there to degrade and burn.
Arkema, Inc. owns the plant.

This is an other example of the Fukushima Effect: What happens when a disaster strikes and the backup systems then fail? In the case of Arkema's chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, the answer is: "Plant go BOOM!"

Between the release of pollutants from flooded plants and refineries to tropical jungle levels of mosquitoes, Houston is not going to be a fun place to be.


B said...

They should charge (and try and punish) those responsible for operations at the plant. If nothing else the EPA should (for once) do it's job the way they were intended to.

Failure to plan is planning to fail.

And these are dangerous to the community around us.

It is not inconceivable that power would be interrupted for days or weeks. Failure to have a backup genset for these emergencies is criminal.

CenterPuke88 said...

B., they had backup generators...they ended up swamped too. From reading stories on the issue, it seems they moved some of the chemicals into refrigerated trailers in an attempt to keep them cool, but those also were overwhelmed. The positioning of the generators should be looked at, as should the location for a plant that deals with temperature sensitive chemicals. While I don't like what is happening, it doesn't seem clear yet if there was inappropriate activity or design on the plant owners part.

dinthebeast said...

There is, on the other hand, a regulation that got enacted after the fertilizer explosion took out a large chunk of West, Texas, that says the public doesn't get to know what chemicals are being stored or produced at any given facility.
So the information coming out of Arkema is less than comprehensive, to say the least.

-Doug in Oakland

Ten Bears said...

At roughly a thousand square miles Houston is the world largest petroleum and petrochemical production megaplex on the planet. Large enough to warrant a chapter specifically on topic in Alan Weisman's The Earth Without Us. Now quite possibly uninhabitable (to humans) for generations.

Leo Knight said...

Completely off topic, but I thought you might find this interesting. Local news here in Baltimore, corruption in an "elite gun task force":

Comrade Misfit said...


That's interesting. I might use it.

David said...

We all love the conveniences of living with modern chemistry, but we all act surprised when something like this happens.

As I understand it, the Arkema plant was built in a 500 year flood plain, meaning that in any given year, it stands a .2% chance of flooding. In that part of the country, damn near everywhere is in the 500 year flood plain.

As CenterPuke referenced, the plant had both a secondary and tertiary backup in place. Nobody has ever had to account for 50" of rain in 72 hours because it hasn't happened in modern history. There was no precedent. What would you have them do, Go to prison because two or three levels of backup failed during a biblical level flood event?

I suppose we can shut all the chemical plants down, and the refiners, but I, for one, am willing to accept the risk that a well run plant poses over living in a pre-industrial society any day.

dinthebeast said...

David: I agree with your comment. There are dangers and risks to any way of living, and the rise in quality of life carries with it the responsibility of coping with the mechanisms of said rise.
About that responsibility, though. Given that Houston has had three "500 year floods" in three years, do they not perhaps have the responsibility to update their statistical models, if not into reality, at least somewhat closer to it?
The times, they are indeed, a-changing.

-Doug in Oakland