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Croda settles with state after ethylene oxide leak

Courtesy of
Croda's Atlas Point plant in New Castle

The state and a chemical company have reached a settlement over the toxic gas leak that shut down the Delaware Memorial Bridge last fall.  


Croda will pay $246,739 to resolve violations related to the release of nearly 2,700 pounds of highly flammable ethylene oxide in November.

According to the Secretary of DNREC’s order, the portion of the company’s Atlas Point plant in New Castle that manufactures ethylene oxide got approval from state officials to operate fully just one month before the leak. According to the order, the facility operated for several weeks without authorization.

The company says the leak was caused by an incorrect gasket.

Over a million gallons of water were sprayed on the release in an attempt to dissolve it, according to Croda officials. DNREC says 700,000 gallons of the deluge water spilled onto the ground. The agency is ordering the company to perform groundwater testing and possible remediation.  

New Castle residents complained of inadequate communication by emergency officials during the leak — and called for ethylene oxide monitoring in the community. Ethylene oxide is a known human carcinogen.

The ethylene oxide portion of Croda’s plant in New Castle stopped operating after the leak. It will start up again after getting final approval from DNREC.

Croda already reimbursed the Delaware River and Bay Authority nearly $143,000 in lost revenue and operating expenses associated with the Delaware Memorial Bridge closure.  


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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