Reed Smith Client Alerts

A Texas grand jury recently indicted Arkema Inc., Arkema CEO Richard Rowe, and plant manager Leslie Comardelle based on allegations that these defendants “recklessly” allowed for a release of air contaminants resulting from a fire at the Arkema Crosby, TX, facility during Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane, which resulted in historic rainfall and flooding, caused a loss of power at the plant that disabled refrigeration units storing organic peroxides, which ultimately resulted in loss of cooling and eventual release of the peroxides. The statute allegedly violated allows penalties of up to $250,000 or five years’ imprisonment or both for an individual and up to $500,000 for a company. Following the indictment, a judge set bond for both Rowe and Comardelle at $20,000. 

Authors: Benjamin H. Patton Mary M. Balaster

Type: Client Alerts

On Friday, August 3, 2018, a Texas grand jury indicted Arkema Inc., Arkema CEO Richard Rowe, and plant manager Leslie Comardelle based on allegations that these defendants were responsible for a release of air contaminants resulting from an organic peroxide decomposition release and fire at their facility in Crosby, TX, during Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane, which resulted in historic rainfall and flooding in South Texas between August 25 and September 2, 2017, caused a loss of power at the Arkema Crosby plant that disabled refrigeration units storing organic peroxides. Despites efforts by company employees to relocate the chemicals in mobile refrigerated units, flooding forced the evacuation of the Arkema plant and resulted in the loss of cooling and eventual decomposition and release of the peroxides. According to an investigation by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), 21 individuals sought medical attention as a result of exposure to fumes on a public highway adjacent to the plant that emergency officials initially decided to keep open, although there were no documented fatalities or long-term medical issues associated with the incident.