August 3, 2018
The French chemical company Arkema was indicted by a Harris County grand jury on Friday after a chemical release following Hurricane Harvey.
Indicting the company as well as executives is unusual and perhaps unprecedented, Arkema lawyer Rusty Hardin said.
“There has never been an indictment like this in Texas or any other state.
“The DA’s office has no legal precedent in Texas courts and there are no cases on point,” Hardin added.
Executives could get up to five years in prison; the company could be fined up to a million dollars.
Toxic chemicals spewed into the air as canisters burned after efforts to keep them refrigerated failed.
The DA’s office said the company and its CEO Richard Rowe, along with plant manager Leslie Comardelle, were responsible for the reckless release of chemicals at the Arkema plant near Crosby, east of Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The release put nearby residents, police and firefighters at risk of injury in the days after Hurricane Harvey inundated Southeast Texas with more than 50 inches of rain over several days.
The company’s site was flooded, shutting down power and backup generators required to keep organic peroxides cool, causing them to reach warm temperatures and erupt in the canisters in which they were contained.