DNREC on Croda deluge water spill: 'no increased risk to human health'
The state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control says a chemical leak that occurred last year in New Castle did not result in contaminated groundwater or soil.
Last fall, Croda’s Atlas Point plant released nearly 2,700 pounds of the cancer-causing, highly flammable gas ethylene oxide.
Company officials said over a million gallons of water were sprayed on the leak in an attempt to dissolve it. In a recent settlement, DNREC noted 700,000 gallons of that deluge water spilled onto the ground, and ordered the company to test soil and groundwater for possible contamination.
Croda reports neither the soil nor groundwater they sampled near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredge spoil area west of the plant contain ethylene oxide.
A different contaminant associated with Croda’s operations, called 1,4-dioxane, was found in the samples. According to a statement, DNREC has concluded its presence is likely not a result of November’s leak and that “for the site’s intended manufacturing use, the reported concentrations of 1,4-dioxane in the groundwater samples do not pose an unacceptable risk to health and safety.” According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ingesting drinking water contaminated with 1,4-dioxane can affect the liver and kidneys.
DNREC is not requiring any further action by Croda to address that portion of the site.
DNREC officials say a letter sent to Croda states that the November leak does not change remedial actions already required by DNREC to address site contamination at the Atlas Point facility.
Croda paid just over $230,000 to resolve violations related to the leak and roughly $16,500 to DNREC for cost recovery as part of the settlement. The company also reimbursed the Delaware River and Bay Authority nearly $143,000, because the leak shut down the Delaware Memorial Bridge for several hours on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Following the leak and the settlement, advocates and neighbors have called for more community involvement, improvement of the emergency notification system and air monitoring in the surrounding areas. Some have criticized the fee Croda was required to pay as low.