Jurors in the criminal case against the U.S. arm of a French company on Thursday heard it routinely stored combustible chemicals where floodwaters could reach them and failed to alert emergency workers as toxic fires erupted.
Arkema SA’s U.S. arm failed to relocate chemicals made at the Crosby, Texas, plant ahead of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey and every prior storm, charged prosecutor Michael Doyle.
Arkema, its U.S. chief executive, Richard Rowe, and the plant manager, Leslie Comardelle, are charged with the toxic releases. Former logistics chief Michael Keough who helped coordinate the response was charged with assault over injuries to emergency workers who inhaled the fumes.
The plant outside of Houston in 2017 became waterlogged and lost power needed to cool volatile chemicals after Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 50 inches (1.27 m) of rain on the area. Twenty-one people sought treatment for exposure to fumes from three chemical fires that erupted.