County prosecutors in Texas are seeking to drop some charges against chemical maker Arkema SA filed in connection with the fire and chemical release at the Arkema plant near Crosby during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
After more than five feet of water flooded Arkema’s Crosby plant during Hurricane Harvey, trailers of organic peroxides burst into flames. The fire lasted for days and sent thick plumes of hazardous smoke into the air. Twenty-one people sought medical attention after exposure to the fumes and 200 people in the surrounding area were evacuated from their homes for a week.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation found in 2018 that Arkema crews worked “to the best of their ability” to keep equipment that stabilized its organic peroxides, which are used to make such things as plastic resins, from losing power. But Arkema didn’t consider flooding of safety systems “a credible risk,” even though the plant was inside flood zones and its insurance company warned in 2016 that it was at risk.
Assault charges against the French chemical company and logistics executive Michael Keough “cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” prosecutors wrote in a motion filed in a Harris County District Court on Friday.