This document is the final investigation report into the August 31, 2017 fire at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas. In the days leading up to the incident, an unprecedented amount of rain fell at the plant due to Hurricane Harvey, causing equipment to flood and fail. As a result, chemicals stored at the plant decomposed and burned, releasing fumes and smoke into the air. More than 200 residents living within 1.5 miles of the facility had evacuated the area and could not return home for a week.
In this final report, the CSB called for more robust industry guidance to help hazardous chemical facilities better prepare for extreme weather events, like flooding, so that similar incidents can be avoided. The key lessons for companies within areas that are susceptible to extreme weather include:
- Facilities should perform an analysis to determine susceptibility to potential extreme natural events– such as flooding, earthquakes, and high winds.
- When conducting analyses of process hazards, or facility siting, companies should evaluate the potential risk of extreme weather events and the adequacy of safeguards.
- When evaluating and mitigating the risk from extreme weather events facilities should strive to apply a sufficiently conservative risk management approach.
- If flooding is the risk, facilities must ensure that critical safeguards and equipment are not susceptible to failure by a common cause and that independent layers of protection are available in the event of high water levels.