Emergency officials continue to fight fires at an Arkema plant near Houston, that was flooded by Tropical Storm Harvey. Containers of chemicals stored at the plant caught fire today, and company officials expect other containers to do the same.
Brett Fors, assistant professor in Cornell University’s Department of Chemical and Chemical Biology, works extensively with organic peroxides in his research. Fors says that while the chemicals are a fire hazard, they are unlikely to pose a danger to water sources or give off toxic fumes after burning.
“Organic peroxides are toxic to humans, but the biggest hazard is that they are explosive when they warm up. However, once they explode and burn, they no longer give off toxic fumes.
“Because organic peroxides are so reactive, the chemicals in the Texas factory are unlikely to pose a threat to drinking water. Once they warm up, they will decompose through explosions and any residue remaining would not be toxic to people.”