Long before the storm dropped barrels of rain over one of the world’s largest industrial corridors, the area was rife with potentially dangerous chemicals

It was 2am Texas time on Thursday when the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby caught fire and exploded. Flooded by Hurricane Harvey’s torrential rains, the plant lost power and refrigeration, and soon thereafter lost control of highly flammable organic peroxides it produces for use in paints and polystyrenes. The explosion cast a 30ft plume of toxic smoke over an evacuated Crosby.

Related: Explosions at flooded Texas chemical plant leave confusion over toxic risk

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