Arkema plant fire investigation: Animation and timeline released

HOUSTON – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board provided an update Wednesday into their investigation of the Arkema facility in the days before and after Hurricane Harvey.    

Vanessa Allen Sutherland, the Safety Board chairwoman, at one point stated that one of the key takeaways of the investigations thus far is simply, "They did planning and the question is, why wasn't it enough?”

The CSB released a highly produced animation illustrating exactly what took place when Harvey was at its peak, including how power was cut off by man and Mother Nature.

The animation stated at one point, "Without power those warehouses were at risk of not staying cool enough to prevent decomposition of the peroxide."

This was pivotal since the decomposition could result in explosions. In the days that followed, residents within a mile and a half of the plant were evacuated, and more than a dozen sheriff's deputies were hospitalized responding to the explosions.

CSB Investigator Mark Wingard said Arkema and its attorneys are cooperating with the investigation.

"They have given us unfettered access to the site, to evidence, witnesses, documents. They really have been very cooperative with us," Wingard said.

The CSB says it will look for any red flags into Arkema's emergency preparedness plans and look at how those plans were adjusted after the facility was added to the 100-year flood plain in 2007.  

The CSB viewed the historic dynamics of this storm as an opportunity for Arkema and other chemical facilities to prepare for the unthinkable.

"We have an opportunity through this investigation and the shared learning lessons that we continue to undertake to help people plan again," Wingard said.

The CSB expects their investigation to become official by June 2018. 

Check out a timeline of the explosion and the investigation below: