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Reactions mixed to Croda alarm test

Croda, Inc.

The New Castle-area chemical plant where a gas leak occurred in 2018 tested its new audible alarm Tuesday. 

The alarm was requested by neighbors and advocates following the flammable gas leakat Croda’s Atlas Point facility that temporarily shut down the Delaware Memorial Bridge in 2018. A Croda representative said Wednesday the system is operating as designed.

State Rep. Franklin Cooke (D-New Castle) represents the Route 9 Corridor. He said before the plant restarted that audible alarms in adjacent neighborhoods would be vital to alerting residents who don’t use computers or cellphones to future emergencies.  But he says Tuesday’s alarm test was not loud enough, and did not reach far enough.

“When I hear about alarms, it needs to alarm the person,” he said. “Meaning when you hear it, it brings your attention. So that’s what they’re working on, because it really was really faint last night.”

Cooke said he travelled from Croda’s Atlas Point facility to near the Bowlerama, which is about one mile away on Route 9, during the alarm test. He says the alarm was intended to reach up to one mile in each direction, but that the sound was inconsistent near Bowlerama. 

“It went in and out— I don’t know if it was because the speaker system spins around,” he said. “But it needs to be much, much louder.”

Penny Dryden of the grassroots Delaware Environmental Justice Community Partnerships (DEJCP) sits on Croda’s Community Advisory Council. She hopes the Council can aid in disseminating information during any future emergency.

“Before, we were calling Croda. We couldn’t get an answer,” she said. “So we don’t want that to be the case. So if the [Community] Advisory Council could be one stop, along with the alarm system, the community knows to contact their Community Advisory Council member.”

DEJCP appealed the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s settlementwith Croda to the Delaware Environmental Appeals Board last year. Dryden says the group sought the alarm system, the Community Advisory Council and a community air monitoring program, which members are still working toward. 

Croda’s Marketing Manager Cara Eaton said in a statement the company “will work with community representatives and first responders to continually improve [the Croda Community Notification System] process moving forward.”

The part of Croda’s Atlas Point facility where the leak occurred started back up last month.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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