BARRETT, Texas (AP) - A Houston-area chemical plant that lost power after Harvey flooded the area has been rocked by two explosions. Arkema Inc. says the Harris County Emergency Operations Center reported two explosions and black smoke coming from the plant at about 2 a.m. Thursday.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office says 10 deputies have been hospitalized. Arkema has said that without power, the plant had no refrigeration system to cool chemicals that become volatile when the temperature rises.
At a Thursday morning press conference, officials addressed the health risk saying all that's being released into the air is black smoke containing carbon particles. No dangerous chemicals are being released.
Arkema official Richard Rennard, who is the president of the Acrylic Monomer Division, said if breathed in, the smoke will cause irritation in the lungs. When asked if it was noxious, Rennard said noxious and toxic are relative terms. Bob Rayall of the Harris County Marshall's office, noted that quote "you don't want to stand in smoke."
"We want to apologize for the impact that this is having on the community. We appreciate all of the work that the responders are doing keeping residents safe."