Evacuation zone lifted near Crobsy chemical plant in Harvey aftermath

Sept. 4 (UPI) — Authorities lifted the 1.5-mile evacuation zone around the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby on Monday in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

On Sunday afternoon, Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office set fire to the remaining six containers of chemicals at the plant as “a proactive approach to minimize the impacts to the community.” One of company’s nine containers caught fire Thursday morning and two more went up in flames on Friday.

“The Crosby Fire Department and unified command has determined it is safe for residents to return to their homes,” the company said in a release at 2 a.m. Monday. “The 1.5-mile evacuation zone around the Arkema Inc. facility has been lifted and is no longer in effect. Arkema thanks the unified command for their hard work and professionalism to ensure the safety of all during the post-Hurricane Harvey period.”

As the Houston metro area cleans up from the hurricane, Houston officials urged residents to move vehicles, trailers and debris from the roadways as they prepare to pick up trash Monday.

Trash blocked by a vehicle will not be picked up, city officials said.

On Sunday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city is back in business.

“The airport system is up and running. The transit system is up and running. We’ve started picking up heavy debris,” Turner said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “Let me be very, very clear. The city of Houston is open for business.”

Few people are staying in shelters.

About 1,000 people are in the downtown George R. Brown Convention Center and 2,700 people are in the NRG Center as of Sunday, officials said. The convention center had around 10,000 one week ago before the opening of NRG center, part of a complex that includes the closed Astrodome and NFL’s Texans’ home NRG Stadium.

More than 50 people have died or are feared dead in the Houston area, which was inundated with more than 50 inches of rain in many areas.

The storm knocked out much of U.S. refining capacity along the Gulf Coast, raising gas prices.

The national average gasoline price on Monday was $2.45 per gallon, according to auto group AA, about 27 cents more expensive one week ago, as refineries in the Gulf remain offline or slow to resume operations. Last year the price was $2.21.

On Sunday, Exxon Mobil started reopening its Baytown complex, which is the second-largest refinery in the United States. The company said it only needs minor repairs after floodwaters swamped the facility.

In response to the refinery slowdown, the Port of Houston has expedited tankers traveling through the reopened Houston Ship Channel.

More than a dozen major refineries have shut down or reduced fuel production.

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