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Houston flood: Texas emergency crews sue Arkema chemical plant

Smoke rises above the Arkema plant at Crosby near Houston. 1 Sept 2017Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A wide area around the plant was evacuated when the containers caught fire

Seven members of the Texas emergency services are suing a chemical factory rocked by explosions and fires after Hurricane Harvey.

Lawyers allege that negligence caused flammable materials to ignite after the Arkema plant near Houston was flooded and lost power.

The seven were enforcing a 1.5-mile evacuation zone and were treated in hospital after breathing smoke.

Arkema has not yet commented on the lawsuit.

The alarm was raised at the flooded plant, in Crosby, when power failed and organic peroxides stored there could no longer be kept refrigerated, making them combustible.

Explosions and fire ripped through the containers, sending plumes of smoke over the area. The fires were eventually put out and authorities lifted the evacuation order on Monday.

The lawsuit, filed in Harris County Court on Thursday, claimed that Arkema “ignored the foreseeable consequences of failing to prepare”, the Houston Chronicle reported, quoting a news release from the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

“Although the explosions had occurred, no-one from Arkema alerted the first responders who were manning the perimeter of the arbitrary mandatory evacuation area. Immediately upon being exposed to the fumes from the explosions, and one by one, the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road,” the statement read.

The seven are said to include police and fire officers and emergency medical technicians.

BBC News – World

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