×
INTELLIGENT WORK FORUMS
FOR ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALS

Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident
9

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Good to hear the rest of the story, especially the heroic efforts of the ride out team. Several good reminders regarding Process Hazard Analyses, but the implied root cause seems to be failure to plan for a 1000-year flood in a "robust" PHA. I understand the CSB needs to offer some learnings, but begs the question to what point do we expand our PHA scopes to treat all 'acts of God'?

I am curious if there was any point in the developing accident when the peroxides could have been moved off-site to higher ground? If so, did (or could) DOT or other regulatory requirements prevent that from consideration?

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

I agree Webb. There's a point where you just say "it's not feasible to design for that". I commend Arkema for what their team did and their preparedness.

I think the lesson to be learned here is that engineering standards and codes are (and should be) minimum design standards. Understanding that these standards do not cover all foreseeable levels of severity of events is critical. Just look at seismic codes, they're about survivability and limiting damage; they do not ensure re-use of the structure. Owners should be aware that designing for extreme survivability is beyond the minimum levels prescribed by the codes. In addition, owners should be aware that updated understanding of risks (changing flood maps in this example) may change the probability of exceeding those events.

Ian Riley, PE, SE
Professional Engineer (ME, NH, MA) Structural Engineer (IL)
American Concrete Industries https://www.facebook.com/AmericanConcrete/

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (TehMightyEngineer (Structural) )

There's a point where you just say "it's not feasible to design for that".

Have to disagree with that comment.

The Arkema Crosby facility was constructed in 2007 and is located within the 100-year flood plain. Many government agencies have land use policies that prohibit chemical plants in the 100-year flood plain. One shouldn't have to wait for the government to tell you that it is irresponsible to locate hazardous materials in the 100-year flood plain.

On top of that, the State of Texas has no land zoning to prevent residents from building homes next to an industrial plant. Witness what happened in West, Texas:

West Fertilizer

In addition, the Texas Guvnor lead efforts to block access to chemical information. In recent years, Texas politicians have made it increasingly difficult for communities to learn what, exactly, sits inside the chemical plants in their neighborhoods — and just how dangerous it might be:

right to know

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

According to the full CSB report the now Arkema Crosby facility was in fact constructed in the 1960's (par. 44), long before the first flood maps for the area were published in 1985 (which then showed minimal risk). Is it irresponsible for facilities to continue handling hazardous materials after redrawn flood maps reclassify their risk, and even if they have a flood management plan?

According to the 2007 maps most of the facility is within the 100-year plain, and the rest within the 500-year plain (par. 155). The lay down yard where the materials were finally being moved is outside the 100 year plain (figs. 27 and 52). Only the containers that the ride out crew were unable to move to the lay down yard catastrophically failed- the trailers in the lay down yard were ignited, a decision that was in some part influenced by public impatience with the evacuation (par. 133, 136), although there was evidence they were beginning to fail by then. The report does not speculate whether if all the trailers had been moved to the lay down yard it would have been impossible to keep them functional until the water receded (probably in my estimation), but the self-ignition of the first 3 strongly influenced the management of subsequent events.

The report also answers my question:
"Although the corporate crisis team members did consider possible offsite storage, they
determined that neither drivers nor vehicles could get to the Crosby facility.
97. If Arkema had wanted to move the organic peroxide products offsite, however, such a decision
needed to have been made very early on, potentially even before Hurricane Harvey made landfall.
The Department of Transportation requires a driver who transports hazardous materials to have a
commercial driver license (CDL) with a hazardous materials endorsement."

To my mind, there might be some scenarios where moving materials by any means possible might be preferable to losing control of them while staying within the bounds of the regulations, but that does not appear to have been the case in Crosby. Not minimizing the resulting 21 folks who sought medical attention, but as a case study this report seems to show much success and very high levels of professionalism in managing a chemical crisis under difficult and unusual circumstances.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (drwebb (Automotive) )

According to the full CSB report the now Arkema Crosby facility was in fact constructed in the 1960's (par. 44), long before the first flood maps for the area were published in 1985 (which then showed minimal risk). Is it irresponsible for facilities to continue handling hazardous materials after redrawn flood maps reclassify their risk, and even if they have a flood management plan?

Seems that you misread the report as that is an incorrect statement. If you knew what functional organic peroxides were, you would know that the present products at the Crosby plant are different than when Wallace & Tiernan built the plant in the 1960s. Most of the products at the Crosby plant were probably commercialized or patented after the 1960s.

"a Arkema expanded its chemical production and warehouse facilities over the years.
b Arkema records show the Crosby site was originally owned by Wallace & Tiernan. In 1969 Wallace & Tiernan merged with Pennsalt, becoming Pennwalt. The Crosby facility remained with Pennwalt until it was acquired by Elf Aquitaine in 1990. In 2004, when Arkema was formed, the site became part of Arkema Inc."

It is irresponsible to introduce new hazardous chemicals to a site without an evaluation of the consequences. This applies especially to organic peroxides that are unstable compounds, that are thermally unstable, and that are subject to self accelerating decomposition.

Arkema also made investments in the Crosby plant in 2017, but apparently not in flood prevention:

"In 2017 Crosby continued to make significant capital investments in the mechanical integrity of the facility, from structural steel replacement, to vessel and piping rehabilitation. The Crosby facility is also in the process of upgrading the process control system to state of the art technology to improve process efficiencies and reliability. In addition, the Crosby plant had a significant investment in 2017. $3.6 million in approved capital investments in 2017 for health, safety, and environmental projects."

Crosby

You must have missed that the report states that plant management was informed of the flood risk:

"A year before Hurricane Harvey, FM Global engineers visited the Arkema Crosby facility, met with the Crosby plant manager, and produced a report that identified the Crosby facility as susceptible to flooding hazards, among other insurance risks."

You must have missed that the report states that the plant had a history of flooding:

"Although the Arkema Crosby facility had a history of flooding over the past 40 years, long-term employees could not recall floodwater occurring higher than two feet before Hurricane Harvey. As a result, Arkema did not consider flooding of its safety systems to be a credible risk. When determining the risk of 100-year or 500-year flooding events, however, relying on the experience of individual employees is insufficient to determine the risk level. For example, long-term employees
at the Arkema Crosby facility recalled Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 as the previous high-water benchmark for flooding at the site. In contrast, flood records suggest that rainfall from Hurricane Rosa in 1994, and even rainfall from an unnamed storm in 2015, produced more significant flooding at the Crosby site than did Allison."

Seems you missed reading that the management at the Crosby plant knew of the flood risk and apparently did nothing:

"FEMA issued a significant revision to the relevant flood insurance rate map in 2007. This revision established that the entire Arkema Crosby facility sits within a floodplain. Some portions of the facility are in the 100-year floodplain, and the remaining areas of the site are in the 500-year floodplain. Although a September 2016 report from Arkema’s insurer, FM Global, identified flood risks to the Crosby facility, including these floodplain designations, Arkema Crosby facility employees, other than a past facility manager, appeared to be unaware of this information."

Seems you missed reading that Arkema purchased GEO Specialty Chemicals (another peroxide manufacturer) in 2009 and apparently now stores other peroxide products manufactured elsewhere:

"The Arkema Crosby facility served as a local distribution center by providing low-temperature organic peroxide storage for a number of other Arkema organic peroxide manufacturing facilities."

Quote (drwebb (Automotive))

To my mind, there might be some scenarios where moving materials by any means possible might be preferable to losing control of them while staying within the bounds of the regulations, but that does not appear to have been the case in Crosby. Not minimizing the resulting 21 folks who sought medical attention, but as a case study this report seems to show much success and very high levels of professionalism in managing a chemical crisis under difficult and unusual circumstances.

Where does ignoring the flood risk and causing a 23,000 lb hazardous waste spill fit in the "very high levels of professionalism in managing a chemical crisis"? The plant management lacked professionalism and their inaction created the crisis.


If you review the pictures in the report, one can see that this is a very small obsolete facility with rusted old facilities that should have been updated long ago for the flood risk.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (drwebb (Automotive) )

Good to hear the rest of the story, especially the heroic efforts of the ride out team. Several good reminders regarding Process Hazard Analyses, but the implied root cause seems to be failure to plan for a 1000-year flood in a "robust" PHA. I understand the CSB needs to offer some learnings, but begs the question to what point do we expand our PHA scopes to treat all 'acts of God'?

You must have missed that the report states that plant management was informed of the flood risk and knew of the risk and did nothing to prevent it. In legal usage throughout the English-speaking world, an act of God is a natural hazard outside human control:

"A year before Hurricane Harvey, FM Global engineers visited the Arkema Crosby facility, met with the Crosby plant manager, and produced a report that identified the Crosby facility as susceptible to flooding hazards, among other insurance risks."

"Although the Arkema Crosby facility had a history of flooding over the past 40 years, long-term employees could not recall floodwater occurring higher than two feet before Hurricane Harvey. As a riesult, Arkema did not consider flooding of its safety systems to be a credible risk. When determining the risk of 100-year or 500-year flooding events, however, relying on the experience of individual employees is insufficient to determine the risk level. For example, long-term employees
at the Arkema Crosby facility recalled Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 as the previous high-water benchmark for flooding at the site. In contrast, flood records suggest that rainfall from Hurricane Rosa in 1994, and even rainfall from an unnamed storm in 2015, produced more significant flooding at the Crosby site than did Allison."

"FEMA issued a significant revision to the relevant flood insurance rate map in 2007. This revision established that the entire Arkema Crosby facility sits within a floodplain. Some portions of the facility are in the 100-year floodplain, and the remaining areas of the site are in the 500-year floodplain. Although a September 2016 report from Arkema’s insurer, FM Global, identified flood risks to the Crosby facility, including these floodplain designations, Arkema Crosby facility employees, other than a past facility manager, appeared to be unaware of this information."


Quote (drwebb (Automotive))

I am curious if there was any point in the developing accident when the peroxides could have been moved off-site to higher ground? If so, did (or could) DOT or other regulatory requirements prevent that from consideration?

Are you implying that this incident occurred because of government regulations rather than the inept management that did nothing to prevent it?

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

There is some Monday morning quarterbacking here. I am employed at a small chemical manufacturing facility (~100 employees). We put significant effort and investment into regulatory compliance. This includes mitigation of risk to employees and the surrounding neighborhood, which is mixed industrial and residential (with homes right next door in fact). Following any incident, one can always determine that more could have been done to prevent it, but in the light of real-time reactions to actual events and situations, the priorities are dynamic and options are endless. Using this kind of hindsight,the storage trailers at ARKEMA could have been hit by a tornado with similar criticism that the trailers were an unsafe and unsecure method of storage, and that a tornado striking the facility was a reasonably foreseeable scenario that should have been mitigated. Our facility makes a wide variety of compounds, some are more hazardous than others. Also, often we are tasked to manufacture pilot batches for samples of hazardous compounds for which there is no permanent storage. It is not feasible to always store all of this stuff under optimum conditions. We are diligent to conform with all regulatory standards and strive to the best of our ability to employ the best management and engineering practices to protect our facility, employees and the surrounding area from an incident of this nature. Despite this, there is always the risk of an unforeseen or unlikely occurrence to circumvent all of our best efforts. To assume that this directly points to negligence is not an objective assessment.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (thebard3)

It is not feasible to always store all of this stuff under optimum conditions
It feasibility vs. profitability which tends to get us into these messes.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

There is some Monday morning quarterbacking here.

Quote (thebard3 (Computer) )


You should have ended your post with that statement instead of veering into the ditch.

How much warning does a company need? This Arkema plant had a history of flooding and were in receipt of a report that said they were at risk.

Floods and tornados may both be considered "acts of god". The key is whether a human or humans could reasonably be considered at fault. Nobody is at fault for a tornado as it is not reasonable to predict a tornado. However, the Crosby plant management ignored the flooding risk and that is why they are responsible for the 21 people that went to the hospital.

I have worked with individuals from European companies like Arkema who appreciate the lessened scrutiny (labor laws and safety rules) when operating facilities in the U.S. When the crap hits the fan, do you think that Arkema would stand behind you or throw you under the bus for ignoring the report? I would think they would take advantage of the less strict U.S. labor laws and let you go.

Review the pictures in the report, one can see that this is a very small obsolete facility with rusted old facilities that should have been updated long ago for the flood risk. Equipment does not last forever. Is it reasonable to expect those old standby generators to work in an emergency?


RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

'Review the pictures in the report, one can see that this is a very small obsolete facility with rusted old facilities that should have been updated long ago for the flood risk. Equipment does not last forever. Is it reasonable to expect those old standby generators to work in an emergency?'

Yeah, we have a very small, I wouldn't consider obsolete, facility with a 100+ year old brick main building, which I guess would be rusty if it were steel. And we have an old generator that we DO expect to work in case of an emergency. Let's just throw profit motive out the window, build a new facility and operate at a loss from now on.

There is some Monday morning quarterbacking here. (Added at the end, per your request).

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (thebard3)

Yeah, we have a very small, I wouldn't consider obsolete, facility with a 100+ year old brick main building, which I guess would be rusty if it were steel. And we have an old generator that we DO expect to work in case of an emergency.

Obviously material matters... a brick building that is still quite stout should obviously be considered differently than a steel construction that is rusting to the point of nearly falling over, same as new steel is better than brick in desperate need of pointing. Pointing out age as the only factor is being purposely obtuse and misses the point, I think.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

2

Quote (bimr)

In 2004, when Arkema was formed, the site became part of Arkema Inc.

Quote (bimr)

The Arkema Crosby facility was constructed in 2007 and is located within the 100-year flood plain.

You're contradicting yourself here. The Arkema facility wasn't built in 2007, according to your timeline it was built far earlier and made part of Arkema in 2004; that's quite a difference from being built in 2007.

Quote (bimr)

"FEMA issued a significant revision to the relevant flood insurance rate map in 2007. This revision established that the entire Arkema Crosby facility sits within a floodplain. Some portions of the facility are in the 100-year floodplain, and the remaining areas of the site are in the 500-year floodplain. "

So, after the facility was operating as Arkema in 2007, with a well-established facility, a revision changed the flood risk. Should the company have been mandated to cease operations?

Quote (Report)

200. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that emergency power systems
(and the equipment they supply) within critical facilities, such as the Arkema Crosby facility,
should be protected against the highest anticipated flood elevation, including the following:
• Base flood elevation plus two feet;
• Locally adopted design flood elevation plus one foot; and
• 500-year flood elevation plus one foot [73, pp. 6-12].
201. As detailed previously, the water level during Hurricane Harvey was more than two feet above the
base flood elevation. On the basis of this water level, the FEMA guidance would have been
insufficient to protect the Low Temperature Warehouses and their backup systems.

Quote (Report)

Despite Federal safety requirements covering the hazardous substances specified in both regulatory
frameworks and despite the potential for flood risk to be analyzed under existing terms within the
existing regulatory structure, no clear and specific regulatory requirement calls for flood risk to be
assessed in relation to process safety under the regulation language in either the PSM standard or
the RMP rule.

Quote (Report)

Although the flooding associated with Hurricane Harvey exceeded the design capability of
Arkema’s safeguards, the CSB investigation concluded that Arkema’s safeguards could likely
provide adequate protection for a 100-year flooding event.


The report indicates they were sufficiently prepared for a 100-year flood and had gone above and beyond the current regulation requirements and made clear attempts to mitigate risk from flooding. Should be required to be prepared for greater than 500 year floods like Harvey? What if they spent millions on flood risk mitigation to design for a 500 year flood and a 600 year flood comes through? What if a freak tornado went though the plant. Would you be here saying that such facilities should be mandated to withstand 200 MPH winds? At what point do you say designing the plant for that level of event was unfeasible given that it was an existing facility?

I'm not saying lessons can't be learned. The biggest one here to me is that the existing regulations do not sufficiently address flood risk. If Arkema hadn't gone above and beyond the requirements they might have had a chemical release long before Harvey. This gap should be closed and we should praise Arkema for demonstrating the risks with this regulatory gap without major injury or loss of life. To me, implying that Arkema was not operating safely is definitely Monday morning quarterbacking.

Ian Riley, PE, SE
Professional Engineer (ME, NH, MA) Structural Engineer (IL)
American Concrete Industries https://www.facebook.com/AmericanConcrete/

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (thebard3 (Computer) )

'Review the pictures in the report, one can see that this is a very small obsolete facility with rusted old facilities that should have been updated long ago for the flood risk. Equipment does not last forever. Is it reasonable to expect those old standby generators to work in an emergency?'

Yeah, we have a very small, I wouldn't consider obsolete, facility with a 100+ year old brick main building, which I guess would be rusty if it were steel. And we have an old generator that we DO expect to work in case of an emergency. Let's just throw profit motive out the window, build a new facility and operate at a loss from now on.

There is some Monday morning quarterbacking here. (Added at the end, per your request).

Is this all about you? Thought the subject was an engineering failure with the Arkema Crosby plant, organic peroxides, and flooding.

Arkema’s emergency response plan provided employees with little direction for how to handle major flooding events. It contained one paragraph about flooding, but a page and a half on handling bomb threats, records show.

Arkema’s main power transformers and its backup generators were not high enough off the ground, causing them to become submerged with floodwaters, Arkema records show. The diesel fuel in thses generators is stored on the bottom subject to floodwaters. Without power, the company could not keep its stash of organic peroxides at a safe temperature inside its refrigerated buildings.

The company’s last resort for keeping organic peroxides cool — refrigerated trailers — was also destined to fail. The diesel-powered trailers had fuel tanks that ran along the bottom of the vehicle. More than 3 feet of water compromised the fuel tanks, causing the freezers to die.



Notice how the plant is destroyed? Tanks floated off.





A tank containing isobutylene was located about 40 yards from six trailers that had been relocated during the storm, according to interviews and satellite images of the burning peroxides. During the flood, first responders were concerned about a chain reaction that could have led to catastrophic results. If the isobutylene tank also caught fire, a chain reaction could have caused another tank containing sulfur dioxide to explode. The sulfur dioxide presents an airborne danger to more than 1 million people if released in a worst-case scenario, according to a Arkema risk management plan filed with the federal government.

According to the 2014 RMP, the tank stores 66,260 pounds of anhydrous sulfur dioxide. Under a hypothetical worst-case scenario outlined in the report, the gas, if released, could prove harmful for a radius of 23 miles, covering more than 1 million residents.

One of about two dozen facilities in the United States run by the French company, Arkema logged worldwide sales last year of $8.9 billion.

Your point is there there was no funds properly maintain the plant?

Organic peroxides have previously caused problems for the plant. In 2006, the plant faced state of Texas penalties for improper storage of the chemicals, which triggered a fire at the site. In 1999, the plant suffered an explosion that was felt across the community of Crosby, that was also attributed to organic peroxides.

In 2016, the OSHA cited Arkema Crosby with multiple serious violations relating to its management of highly hazardous chemicals. Arkema paid $91,000 to settle those violations.

“Facilities need to take a more proactive approach and learn from these past incidents,” said M. Sam Mannan, a professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University and the author of a study on Texas chemical plants, conducted with the Houston Chronicle, that listed the Arkema plant as one of the most hazardous in the state.

One scenario is that the plant could have been upgraded to meet the expected flood elevations. If that was done, the plant would not have had major damage.

The second scenario is the plant management did nothing and now the plant has major damage and the nearby residents went through nine days of chaos with some residents and first responders injured.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (TehMightyEngineer (Structural))

The report indicates they were sufficiently prepared for a 100-year flood and had gone above and beyond the current regulation requirements and made clear attempts to mitigate risk from flooding. Should be required to be prepared for greater than 500 year floods like Harvey? What if they spent millions on flood risk mitigation to design for a 500 year flood and a 600 year flood comes through? What if a freak tornado went though the plant. Would you be here saying that such facilities should be mandated to withstand 200 MPH winds? At what point do you say designing the plant for that level of event was unfeasible given that it was an existing facility?.

That is an incorrect statement.

There are no government regulations for flood prevention that are specific for the chemical industry. Companies have to use good engineering practice to protect facilities. The point is that it appears that Arkema has done little to nothing to protect against a flood, despite the plant management being informed that there was a flood risk. Look at the pictures.

"Industry safety guidance for companies on how to address flood hazards was available from several different sources, including the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) and FEMA. This guidance, however, is either too generic or does not require sufficiently conservative precautions to have helped Arkema prevent this incident. For example, this guidance does not require elevating critical equipment to heights that would have prevented Hurricane Harvey-level floodwater from disabling safety systems at the Arkema Crosby facility. Given this type of shortcoming, more robust industry guidance is needed to help hazardous chemical facilities better prepare for extreme weather events, such as flooding, hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes, or droughts."

Arkema’s emergency response plan provided employees with little direction for how to handle major flooding events. It contained one paragraph about flooding, but a page and a half on handling bomb threats, records show.

There has been historical flooding at the Crosby plant.

"Since 1994, the water gauge closest to the Arkema Crosby facility recorded three 100-year flooding
events, one of which came close to the 500-year flood criteria."

The concept of the “100-year flood” is one of the most misunderstood terms in disaster preparedness. A “100-year flood” is not a flood that you should expect to happen only once every 100 years. Instead, it refers to a flood that has a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year. The problem is that 500-year floods are happening more often than probability predicts — especially in Houston. And a “500-year” flood isn’t really a 1-in-500 chance anymore. Houston isn’t the only city to get hit by “historic” floods with rapid frequency. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, got hit with a 500-year flood in 2008, followed by a 100-year flood in 2016.

Quote (TehMightyEngineer (Structural))

I'm not saying lessons can't be learned. The biggest one here to me is that the existing regulations do not sufficiently address flood risk. If Arkema hadn't gone above and beyond the requirements they might have had a chemical release long before Harvey. This gap should be closed and we should praise Arkema for demonstrating the risks with this regulatory gap without major injury or loss of life.

Another incorrect statement.

Arkema did not go above and beyond the requirements. If you look at the improvements, they appear to be all related to production and efficiency improvements. Arkema is now hiding behind an act of god defense.

Are you also going to give credit to the bomb squad and first responders who actually saved the day?

The City of Houston Bomb Squad responded to the chaos and ignited the organic peroxides to prevent a larger catastrophe. There was concern that the organic peroxides would explode and ignite the large sodium dioxide and isobutylene tanks.

Quote (TehMightyEngineer (Structural))

So, after the facility was operating as Arkema in 2007, with a well-established facility, a revision changed the flood risk. Should the company have been mandated to cease operations?

As a good corporate citizen, Arkema should have taken steps to minimize the danger to the residents. Why wait until you have a disaster, people are injured, and then be sued?

Harris County Sues Arkema

What is the definition of a well-established facility? This is an old plant that has been continuously modified since it was originally constructed in the 1960s, extensively upgraded in 1980, and has gone through multiple corporate owners over the years. This is not a modern well-established facility.

It is somewhat obvious that you have no idea what organic peroxides are, or sodium dioxide and isobutylene either. See the link.

Safety

Over 21 people injured over 9 days of chaos and you seem to think they are a good corporate citizen. It could have all been prevented.



RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident


Quote (bimr)

Is this all about you? Thought the subject was an engineering failure with the Arkema Crosby plant, organic peroxides, and flooding.
No, just that the ARKEMA facility and processes are very much like our own. I can imagine where a similiar set of unseen circumstances might occur here. I guess I'm just being

Quote (MacGyverS2000)

purposely obtuse
. I understand the PHA process and we have to rely on our best judgement, experience and history to make assumptions. That's called being proactive. I'm just going to agree to disagree with you.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (thebard3 (Computer) )

No, just that the ARKEMA facility and processes are very much like our own.

The Arkema plant in Crosby reminded me of the Hercules Inc. plant in New Jersey where I worked back in the late 1980s. Hercules Inc. was a major corporation at the time. Among the various business interests, Hercules was a large defense contractor making rocket propellants and was one of the bidders for the space shuttle boosters.

Hercules Inc. built this particular petrochemical plant in the 1950s and over the next 30 years, most of the products made at this plant became unprofitable and the plant became obsolete. At the time, much of the plant was abandoned in place (for example with asbestos installation falling off the piping). Hercules did not appropriate money to demolish the shut down areas. A small portion of the plant had been modified to make organic peroxides and this kept the plant open. The plant staff had dwindled down to maybe 40 or so people working there. The technical resources of the staff were limited because of the small number of technical staff; there was a part-time plant manager, a safety person, a part-time plant engineer, an operations engineer, an assistant plant engineer, and the operators (high school education). The corporation would have to step in and give guidance to a small plant like this because the limited plant staff can't be expected to be familiar with all of the technical issues.

A few anecdotes. I recall that the controls system was pneumatically operated. That means that the control panel had pneumatic switches which of course was new technology in the 1950s but obsolete in the 1980s. The maintenance staff worked like watch makers repairing the pneumatics because no parts were not available. On one project, somebody told me that I installed the first electronic controller in the plant.

There was a horizontal tank that was used for storing organic peroxides. The insurer, Factory Mutual presented Hercules with a report that stated that if the organic peroxides ignited, the tank could possibly set off like a rocket toward the school that was on the adjacent property. Peroxides may self-ignite if the right environmental conditions are present. Hercules did nothing about it. This plant was also a superfund site at the time.

In the 1990s, venture capitalists eventually came calling on Hercules Inc. The company was broken up and sold. The organics business went through several corporate owners and is now part of the Arkema Corporation.

So my take on this is different than yours. From my viewpoint, I see the same type of mistakes being repeated.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Back when I was working for Baker Perkins Ltd in Michigan we sold several large batch mixers to Hercules. In 1980 I almost went to work for Hercules out at their Magna, UT facility where they manufactured solid rocket engines (they made me an offer but I turned it down as I got a better one from McDonnell Douglas). I understand that Hercules, at least their rocket propellant division, eventually end-up as part of what is now Orbital ATK.

BTW, if you're ever out in Utah and are heading up to Promontory Point (where the 'Golden Spike' was driven completing the first transcontinental railroad), I would recommend that you take a side-trip, following the 'Brown signs' to the 'Rocket Park'. Located on the edge of the parking lot for Orbital ATK's Flight Systems test facility, they have on public display a very large number of rockets, everything from their first solid rocket engines, to the main section of a Minuteman missile to the space shuttle boosters. It's a great way for a couple engineers (as me and an old college buddy did in 2009) to kill an hour or so waiting for the Promontory Point National Monument to open.


October 2009 (Sony A100)


October 2009 (Sony A100)

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (JohnRBaker (Mechanical))

In 1980 I almost went to work for Hercules out at their Magna, UT facility where they manufactured solid rocket engines (they made me an offer but I turned it down as I got a better one from McDonnell Douglas). I understand that Hercules, at least their rocket propellant division, eventually end-up as part of what is now Orbital ATK.

That was a prescient decision. In March 1989, Hercules Inc. accidently blew up their brand new automated rocket propellant facility in Magna, Utah.

https://www.upi.com/Archives/1989/03/29/Hercules-m...

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

While I was working at Baker Perkins we got several 'replacement' orders from Hercules after they had 'blown-up' one of our mixers. If you'd ever been out to Magna you would have seen that those mixers were installed in bunkers out in the Utah desert and operated remotely just because there occasionally were accidents. After all, they were basically mixing gun powder. Also, when I flew out to interview with Hercules in 1980, the office complex where the interview took place was a five story building with only a single floor above ground. I have to say it was a strange experience going into their lobby where the elevators had only a DOWN button,

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

A Harris County jury on Friday (8/3/18) handed a series of indictments to Arkema Inc., an international chemical company whose Houston-area plant exploded in a series of chemical fires after Hurricane Harvey left it under 6 feet of water.

The indictments — which name Arkema North America, CEO Richard Rowe and plant manager Leslie Comardelle — charges that all played a role in “recklessly” releasing chemicals into the air, putting residents and first responders at risk. The charges carry penalties of up to five years in prison for Rowe and Comardelle and a fine of up to $1 million for the corporation.

[link https://www.texastribune.org/2018/08/03/arkema-ind... officials charged [/link]

A recent FM Global study reveals that for every US$1 spent on hurricane protection, loss exposure cost decreased by an average of US$105.

For companies wondering whether they’re getting a good return when they invest in hurricane loss prevention, a new study from FM Global indicates that the answer is most likely yes. The FM Global study reports that for every dollar spent on hurricane protection, loss exposure cost decreased by an average of $105. Furthermore, according to the company, this figure doesn’t even take into account other business ramifications from a hurricane loss such as damage to reputation, market share and shareholder value.

FM Global also notes that companies that invest in well-organized flood emergency response planning (FERP) have nearly 70% less damage and resume operations faster than companies with no or inadequate plans. The company advises a number of preventive measures to minimize the effects of costly wind damage and to prevent flood damage including preparing backup power generators, inspecting and securing rooftops, elevating or sealing off valuable equipment and fastening storage tanks.

FMGlobal Study Link


RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (bimr)

A Harris County jury on Friday (8/3/18) handed a series of indictments to Arkema Inc., an international chemical company whose Houston-area plant exploded in a series of chemical fires after Hurricane Harvey left it under 6 feet of water.

Well, it appears you were correct on the big point bimr. The plant managers violated the law. I still feel that even if they had followed the law to the letter (and I'd be curious to read more into the court proceedings to see what laws were violated, probably one of the generic catch-all laws regarding "recklessness") the results would have been the same given the conditions.

However, violating the law is violating the law. I wouldn't be surprised if Arkema appealed this decision and I also wouldn't be surprised if this gets either reversed or upheld during such an appeal. These sorts of things are often a little too open to interpretation of whether a law was violated or not.

In the end, I feel bad for Arkema management but I also hope that this can only result in positive changes for industry. The biggest things that need to change that I'm not sure is being discussed enough is proper zoning for industrial plants which use reactive and explosive chemicals. My industrial experience is with paper mills and I'm always surprised how close people are allowed to live downwind of the pulp mills; and ClO2 is relatively minor compared to some of the other stuff used regularly in industrial processes.

Ian Riley, PE, SE
Professional Engineer (ME, NH, MA) Structural Engineer (IL)
American Concrete Industries https://www.facebook.com/AmericanConcrete/

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

I am also interested in what they were indicted for. However, if one can show that you made some good faith efforts, it would go a long way instead of standing there with your hands in your pockets and saying you are astonished.

For a long time, the chemical industry has focused mainly on ROI and that needs to change.

Practicing corporate social responsibility makes companies look good and helps their leaders and employees feel like good corporate citizens, and it offer tangible benefits to a company’s bottom line as demonstrated in the FMGlobal report and this study.

Link to Project ROI

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

3
(OP)
Personally, I think these charges are unjustified, but were done to generate free media attention for the incumbent Harris County DA. Elections are this November. I say charges eventually get dismissed, thrown out, or the very least, they are found not guilty. I know Leslie. You won't find a more safe and responsible person. In the videos showing people working in water up to their chest moving materials to higher ground, he, the Plant Manager, was one of them. As for the company, the Harris County Flood Control District reported that the volume of rain that fell on the area around that plant had a probability of occurring only once every 5,000 to 20,000 years. Who else is held to that standard? Arkema was well prepared for a 100 or 500 year flood, which is the usual standard. Let's see how things play out.

Good luck,
Latexman

To a ChE, the glass is always full - 1/2 air and 1/2 water.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Presumably, that was a grand-jury indictment, not a jury trial, so there won't be any appeal until there has been a trial. Also note that no defense is put on in a grand jury hearing. So yeah, a lot could happen with that.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Quote (Latexman (Chemical)(OP))

As for the company, the Harris County Flood Control District reported that the volume of rain that fell on the area around that plant had a probability of occurring only once every 5,000 to 20,000 years.

That statement should be considered a CYA by an agency that is responsible for flood prevention. What would you expect them to say, that it is was similar to past events like Hurricane Allison or Rosa?

“There is no doubt that floods in Houston from Hurricane Harvey were an extreme event. However, they are similar to past events along the Gulf of Mexico, and current trends toward more intense hurricanes and rainfall suggest they will continue and may get worse.”

Houston and Hurricane Harvey:

a call to action


"The CSB report also noted an insurance company's 2016 report concluded that the facility was extremely susceptible to flooding hazards thanks to the Adlong Ditch and the facility’s location within both 100-year and 500-year flood plains. However, the 2016 report did not provide recommendations to Arkema on how to address the flood hazards, and the only employee at the Crosby plant who knew of this 2016 report had retired at the beginning of 2017, per the CSB report."

Biz Journal Link

Arkema Attorney's on the other hand, put out Texas size "whoppers":

"“Leslie Comardelle and his ride out crew acted heroically working around the clock throughout the storm, trying to protect the plant and the public,” Comardelle’s attorneys, Paul Nugent and Heather Peterson of Nugent & Peterson in Houston, said in a statement. “There has never been such an indictment in Texas or any other state, the District Attorney’s new theory has no legal precedent and is untested in Texas courts. Leslie Comardelle has committed no crime and will be vindicated in court. The Arkema plant, built in 1960, never had flooding issues in the 57 years preceding Harvey.”"

The Arkema plant actually had a 40 year history of flooding. Long-term employees at the Arkema Crosby facility recalled Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 as the previous high-water benchmark for flooding at the site. In contrast, flood records suggest that rainfall from Hurricane Rosa in 1994, and even rainfall from an unnamed storm in 2015, produced more significant flooding at the Crosby site than did Allison.

In addition, an analysis led by Texas A&M University researchers in 2016 identified Arkema’s facility as one of the biggest risks in a corridor with the country’s greatest concentration of petrochemical plants.



RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

(OP)
Yes, it was a Grand Jury.

Good luck,
Latexman

To a ChE, the glass is always full - 1/2 air and 1/2 water.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Assertions that officials were 'reckless' isn't quite the same thing as saying any laws were broken, or regulations not followed. That sounds more like a civil, rather than criminal case.

Brad

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Grand jury indictments are for criminal matters. Grand juries are made up of ordinary citizens with no particular qualifications. Their purpose is to provide some protection against rogue prosecutors, but they general just do what the prosecutor asks. Being an engineer is usually a defacto disqualification for serving on any jury where technical issues are involved. Both sides are looking for people who can be easily swayed by emotional arguments.

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Arkema is being charged with recklessness, which is very unusual. This is a criminal act, think reckless driving.

Typically, in a case like this, the State agency in charge of environmental regulations will cite the violating firm for criminal violations of State Law for chemical releases. However, this action might not be taken in Texas because the State is controlled by people that prefer to sue the EPA rather than to enforce environmental laws.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality also are investigating the incident, though their results have not yet been released.

Sometimes a person's conduct is so reckless that it becomes the basis for a lawsuit or criminal prosecution. If a person acts with such utter disregard for the safety of others -- and knows (or should know) that his actions may cause harm to someone else -- he may be liable for injuries caused by his recklessness.

There are four basic theories of liabilities which, depending on the type of lawsuit, can render a defendant liable for injuries he or she causes.

1. Intent (also called willfulness) means the person acted with the intent to cause harm.
2. Recklessness means the person knew (or should have known) that his or her action were likely to cause harm.
3. Negligence means that the person acted in violation of a duty to someone else, with the breach of that duty causing harm to someone else.
4. Strict liability is reserved for certain specific situations where someone can be held liable for harms they cause no matter what their mental state was.

Recklessness involves conduct that is short of actual intent to cause harm, but greater than simple negligence. Unlike negligence -- which occurs when a person unknowingly takes a risk that they should have been aware of -- recklessness means to knowingly take a risk.

State laws prohibit many reckless behaviors and look upon reckless actors as social dangers because they gamble with other people's safety. A person who has been injured from a civil claim of recklessness of another may recover compensation for any resulting medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation, pain, and suffering. In addition, recklessness may also allow recovery from certain people who are typically immune from liability for mere negligence, such as government workers and health care professionals.

Link to recklessness

The Texas Penal Code says someone acts recklessly when: he is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor's standpoint. It is possible the documents could help establish the standard of care an ordinary person would exercise.

Prosecutors filed documents from Akzo Nobel's Pasadena plant, including a hurricane preparedness plan, emails that detail the days before and after Hurricane Harvey and packing slips that show the company shipped hundreds of thousands of volatile chemicals to New York before the storm moved in for safekeeping.

Similar to Arkema, Akzo houses chemicals that must be refrigerated at all times or will begin to degrade and catch on fire.

The documents show Akzo plant managers ordered the plant be emptied on Thursday, Aug. 24, twelve hours before Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas.

As previously mentioned, Arkema's preparedness plan was

Lawsuits Question Arkema Emergency Preparedness Plan

Arkema Officials Were Warned of Flood Risks a Year Before Hurricane Harvey

The Emergency Response Plan had a one paragraph section on flooding:

"Care shall be taken to be sure water is kept out of equipment, shops, control rooms, offices, etc. These areas are to be checked during severe rainstorms
to prevent damage or personal injuries. Non-essential personnel are to be released when appropriate."



RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Here's an interesting follow-up report documenting some of the environmental impacts on the Houston area as a result of hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, including some comments about the Arkema situation:

Impact of Hurricane Harvey on health, environment still a concern a year later

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/harvey/2018/08/16/...

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

It's interesting to note that the issue that seemed to get the largest amount of criticism was that most of the large oil refining and chemical processing operations were not properly shutdown prior to the storm hitting, despite there having been at least a two-day warning of what was coming. It sounds like these operators continued to run their facilities at full production right up until the storm hit, in some cases, only shutting down after the power started to fail or when flood waters started to flow into their plants. This led to significantly more pollutants being released than what would have if they had followed proper shut-down procedures.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issues Final Report on Arkema Crosby Incident

Typically, hurricanes will strike the Texas coast once every nine to 16 years, while tropical storms are more common than that. It appears that since the hurricanes hit Texas on average just once per decade, everyone forgets the event.

“There is no doubt that floods in Houston from Hurricane Harvey were an extreme event. However, they are similar to past events along the Gulf of Mexico, and current trends toward more intense hurricanes and rainfall suggest they will continue and may get worse.”

Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 dumped as much as 35 to 40 inches of rain on southeast Texas, killing 41 people and causing $9 billion in damage. Yet, everyone seems to be astounded by Hurricane Harvey.



Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login



News


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close