Explosions Around Houston and the Impact of Zoning

By: Kylie Ray

Texas has many large scale chemical-processing plants that produce items like detergents, plastics, antifreeze, and paints. It’s important that the temperature at these plants is maintained to keep chemicals stable. When Hurricane Harvey barged into Texas, flood damages weren’t the only things the people of Texas had to worry about. On August 31st, less than a week after the arrival of Hurricane Harvey, several chemical plants exploded around Houston, Texas. These chemical explosions were caused chemical imbalances when the generators for the plants were taken out by Hurricane Harvey’s winds and flood water. Without the cooling these generators provided, the chemicals inside started to heat up and react to each other causing them to explode. The explosion around Houston released noxious gasses into the air and caused great harm to those who inhaled them. Fifteen public safety officers posted around these plants were quickly taken to the hospital for inhaling these gases and several more in the surrounding area as well. The explosions also systematically broke down the water and sewer systems in Houston and other surrounding towns by damaging the pipes underground with the vibrational force the explosions caused.  One of the most hazardous in the state, the explosion at the Arkema plant, “will bring fresh scrutiny on whether these plants are adequately regulated and monitored by state and federal safety officials” said reporters Julie Turkewitz, Henry Fountain, and Hiroko Tabuchiaug of the New York Times.