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Croda to bring new sustainable chemical plant to First State

Tom Byrne/Delaware Public Media

A new chemical plant coming to New Castle will be the first of its kind in North America.

Gov. Jack Markell joined officials from chemical manufacturer Croda International Plc. Tuesday to break ground on the company’s new $170 million dollar plant at its Atlas Point facility.

The plant will be the first on the continent to produce high performance, 100 percent sustainable non-ionic surfactants using bio-ethanol.  Non-ionic surfactants are agents that help keep oil and water together in products ranging from face creams and toothpaste to laundry detergent and paint.

Croda CEO Steve Foots says his company has already invested in sustainability at its Delaware facility - including burning landfill gas to produce electricity and a solar farm. But he says this move has much broader implications.

"Sustainability is fundamental to who we are and what we do. It’s an unstoppable mega-trend around our business," said Foots.  "And what we mean by that is customers everyday want purer products, higher quality products, products free from impurities. [They want] products that meet the next legislative requirement, whether it’s in a geographical region or in a sector. And this trend is increasing at a phenomenal rate."

Building the plant is expected to produce 250 construction jobs and 30 full-time manufacturing jobs will be created once it opens.

Credit Tom Byrne/Delaware Public Media
Gov. Markell (far left) joins Croda officials in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the company's new plant in New Castle

Markell says it’s a great deal for Delaware on many fronts.

"The fact that Croda is investing a significant amount of money to put people to work in the near-term, hiring additional people in the longer term [is good news], but really helping to be at the forefront of a new industry is just exciting for us," said Markell.

Foots notes the trust his company has built with state officials was a major reason for the decision to build the plant in Delaware.

"You should all see this investment as a real coup for Atlas Point and the State of Delaware." said Foots. "This first technology of its kind in our industry and we're building it here.  We're not building it in Brazil.  We're not building it in India, or China or Europe.  We're building it here and that's quite a thing."

The new facility is slated to be completed in 2017

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.