What is Arkema?

Harvey brings 'hell' to Texas residents
Harvey brings 'hell' to Texas residents

A flooded chemical plant in Crosby, Texas that caught fire and spewed black smoke on Thursday is owned by a French company that has a massive global presence and a sizable North American operation.

Arkema, a chemical and materials company, made about €7.5 billion ($9 billion) in sales last year and employs almost 20,000 workers worldwide. More than a third of its sales came from North America.

The company boasts 26 locations in the United States alone, including plants in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Alabama, Minnesota, Virginia, North Carolina and New York. U.S. operations are headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Five of its US plants are located in Texas, including in Houston and Beaumont.

The Crosby plant makes "organic peroxides" used in plastic, according to the company's website.

Related: Harvey shuts down major fuel pipeline supplying East Coast

Chemicals at the Crosby plant created a fire Thursday. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez there was not anything toxic or a dangerous to the community.

"It wasn't an explosion, I want to be very clear," Gonzalez said.

Sheriff's deputies who were at the plant when the chemical reaction happened were taken to an area hospital as a precaution.

Arkema shut down the facility as Hurricane Harvey approached last week. It also evacuated employees and residents within 1.5 miles of the plant as a precaution after it flooded.

On Thursday evening, Arkema said the evacuation zone remained in place and that there was "evidence suggesting" other fires may break out.

The plant was fined about $90,000 in February for 10 violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Details are unclear, but a publicly available OSHA report shows that some concerned the "process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals."

The case was closed several months ago. Arkema did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last year, Arkema was one of two companies that settled a class-action lawsuit in New Jersey concerning water contamination. The company did not admit to wrongdoing, but agreed with Solvay Specialty Polymer to pay $1.84 million in monetary awards and blood tests for residents of a New Jersey community who drank from a contaminated water supply, according to the South Jersey Courier Post.

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