Arkema Inc. is taking stock of its plastic catalysts plant in Crosby, Texas, which was the site of explosions and fires after flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
A company spokesman told Plastics News Sept. 5 that the firm had staff on site in Crosby, and that they were "doing an assessment" of the plant.
Multiple trailers of organic peroxide had caught fire following refrigeration units being shut down by flood waters. The site lost power Aug. 28 as Hurricane Harvey flooded the area. Officials decided to conduct what they called a controlled ignition of remaining trailers rather than risk additional damage to the facility or spreading into the surrounding area.
Six containers storing organic peroxide products burned themselves out following the controlled ignition on Sept. 3. That allowed local residents to begin returning to their homes on Sept. 4. A 1.5 mile evacuation zone surrounding the facility has been lifted.
The Crosby plant makes liquid organic peroxides that are used primarily in the production of polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC and acrylic resins, as well as polyester-reinforced fiberglass. Organic peroxides are used in the polymerization process that converts monomers into polymers.
The company spokesman said that Arkema's liquid organic peroxides customers potentially could receive those materials from company plants in Geneseo, N.Y., and Franklin, Va.
Other suppliers of liquid organic peroxides include Akzo Nobel of Amsterdam and Solvay SA of Brussels. Akzo Nobel operates a Houston-area plant making those materials in Pasadena, Texas. Company officials could not be reached to comment on the status of that plant. Solvay has no liquid organic peroxides plant in the Houston area.
Vanderbilt Chemicals LLC of Norwalk, Conn., also supplies liquid organic peroxides, as do German firms Pergan and United Initiators.
Indian consulting firm Markets & Markets said that as of 2014, North America was the largest global market for organic peroxides. The global market was growing almost 7 percent per year, and was expected to be worth $2.1 billion by 2020.
Plastics and chemicals are the largest end market for organic peroxides, accounting for more than 60 percent of demand, according to a recent report from the firm.
Potential supply problems caused by the temporary closing of the Crosby plant have been reduced, since many resin plants that use liquid organic peroxides also have been sidelined, according to Clifford Lee, a market analyst with Townsend Solutions in Houston.
"The supply and demand equilibrium was established pretty fast," he said in a Sept. 6 email to Plastics News. "But it was not a small quantity at the Crosby plant."
Arkema is a global supplier of specialty chemicals and plastics, based in Colombes, France, with North American headquarters in Philadelphia. The firm posted sales of almost $9 billion in 2016.