EO Leak at Croda Plant
The Delaware Memorial Bridge reopened late Sunday night following a chemical leak at a nearby plant. No injuries were reported.
11/26/18 Damian Giletto, The News Journal
A toxic gas leak from a chemical plant near the base of the Delaware Memorial Bridge on Sunday shut down all lanes of traffic on the busy holiday weekend for more than six hours.
A hazmat crew was called to Croda Inc. in New Castle at 4:16 p.m. for leaking ethylene oxide, an extremely flammable gas, from a tank on the site, according to Holloway Terrace Fire Chief Mark Willis.
At 11:20 p.m., the leak was contained and the bridge reopened.
Ethylene oxide is used to manufacture other chemicals, to sterilize medical devices and as a fumigant, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The gas was transferred from the leaking tank to a secure one. More than 70 percent of the gas escaped the chemical tank, said fire company spokesman George Greenley.
As of 11:20 p.m. Sunday, the ethylene oxide was fully contained, the chemical plant announced.
Residents in New Castle neighborhoods north of Moores Lane were urged to stay in their homes, said New Castle City Police Chief Richard McCabe. Dispatchers used a reverse 911 call to notify residents.
No injuries have been reported.
All north and south lanes of Delaware Memorial Bridge closed around 5 p.m. as a precautionary measure as crews responded to the leak, Delaware River and Bay Authority spokesman Jim Salmon said.
Interstate 295 closed at I-95, and traffic was diverted to the Commodore Barry, Walt Whitman or Ben Franklin bridges. The congestion from the bridge had a ripple effect along I-95 and other major roadways, causing major delays for the end of the holiday weekend.
“We deeply regret the significant inconvenience that this has had on the community and those traveling in the area,” a press release said.
Dan Heneghan said his son and his daughter-in-law, who is diabetic, were stuck on the New Jersey side of the bridge, trying to return home to northern Virginia. They had just spent the holiday with Heneghan in Ventnor City.
British-based Croda Inc. is an international specialty chemical manufacturer.
Atlas Point, Croda’s Delaware location, manufactures formulas ranging from pharmaceutical use to industrial chemicals. Croda bought the site from Uniqema in 2006.
The process of turning ethanol into ethylene oxide is new — something Croda began doing less than six months at its Atlas Point location, according to Greenley.
A manufacturing operation has been at Atlas Point for more than 75 years.
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