Chem Leak Shuts Delaware Memorial Bridge

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 @ 06:11 AM gHale

A toxic gas leak from a chemical plant near the base of the Delaware Memorial Bridge Sunday shut down all lanes of traffic on the busy holiday weekend for more than six hours.

A HazMat crew got the call to Croda Inc. in New Castle, Delaware, 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.

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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 (OSHA).

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., the ethylene oxide is fully contained, the chemical plant said.

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.

There were no injuries reported in the incident.

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. 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.

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, Greenley said.

A manufacturing operation has been at Atlas Point for more than 75 years.



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