By Friday, the water had receded but Smith could not comment on whether that had changed the calculation of risk.
A 1 1/2-mile buffer (2.4 kilometers) around the plant was established Tuesday when Arkema warned that chemicals kept there could explode.
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Arkema says Harvey's floodwaters engulfed its backup generators at the plant in Crosby and knocked out the refrigeration necessary to keep the organic peroxides, used in such products as plastics and paints, from degrading and catching fire.
It instead came by way of the plant's ride-out crew, who told the Crosby Volunteer Fire Department about it when they were rescued during the storm, she said.
In a conference call with reporters Friday, Arkema President and CEO Rich Rowe apologized and said he was sending a team of employees to Crosby to figure out how best to assist locals.
"I realize this is not a situation that we can help remedy overnight," he said.
Employees had been pulled, and up to 5,000 people living nearby were warned to evacuate.
Officials remain comfortable with the size of the buffer, Rachel Moreno, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Fire Marshal Office, said Friday evening.