Seven local police officers on Sept. 7 filed a lawsuit against Arkema Inc. in Harris County Court, seeking damages for injuries that they claim resulted from responding to fires at Arkema's Crosby, Texas, site.
Trailers holding organic peroxides burned after flooding from Hurricane Harvey knocked out power there. Without power to provide air conditioning, the material overheated.
In the filing, the officers claim that Arkema officials said fumes and smoke from the site were not dangerous, and that they still did not warn responders after several responders became ill as a result of exposure to fumes.
Arkema spokesman Stan Howard said the company rejects "any suggestion that we failed to warn of the danger of breathing the smoke from the fires at our site or that we ever misled anyone."
"To the contrary, we pleaded with the public, for their own safety, to respect the 1.5-mile evacuation zone imposed by the unified command well prior to any fire. We will vigorously defend a lawsuit that we believe is gravely mistaken.
"Our employees acted in the same honorable and heroic way that thousands of other citizens in Harris County did when confronted with an unprecedented tragedy," Howard said. "They did everything they could to protect the public, while fighting fast-rising flood waters that were 5 to 7 feet high at our plant. We totally cooperated with all first responders and the numerous regulatory agencies working with us to keep the public safe."