Croda agrees to nearly quarter of a million dollar settlement after November ethylene oxide release

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The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Croda, Inc. entered into a settlement agreement that resolves environmental violations arising from the Nov. 25 ethylene oxide (EO) release at Croda’s Atlas Point facility.

The agreement calls for the company to pay nearly a quarter of a million dollars in penalties in connection with the release, which led to the closing of the Delaware Memorial Bridge for several hours on a night when Thanksgiving travelers were headed home.

Croda earlier agreed to pay the Delaware River and Bay Authority for the lost toll revenue.

Croda, Inc.’s site at 315 Cherry Lane, New Castle manufactures surfactants that promote mixing of oil- and water-based ingredients in consumer products such as pharmaceuticals and shaving cream.

At 4:23 p.m. on Nov. 25, the EO release by Croda was responsible for a seven-hour shutdown of the Delaware Memorial Bridge while emergency responders – including DNREC’s Emergency Prevention and Response Section and Environmental Crimes Unit – worked to determine whether the release posed a threat to residents.

Residents were asked to shelter in place.

Croda ’s investigation found that the release was due to the failure of a gasket made of unsuitable material for processing EO at the plant. The accidental release resulted in 2,688 pounds of the highly flammable gas escaping into the air.

A water deluge system, deployed by Croda to minimize the risk of ignition or explosion of the EO that was released, caused almost 700,000 gallons of water to overflow a spill sump and to discharge into the ground and a wooded area behind the sump.

EO is a toxic and volatile gas that in the past was used for poison gas.

The settlement agreement includes a DNREC Secretary’s Order issued on March 4, citing Croda for Division of Air Quality violations for the EO release and for the improper maintenance and operation of the Atlas Point facility.

The Division of Water cited Croda for the unpermitted release of deluge water, The settlement agreement also directs Croda to pursue a plan of sampling and remediation

As part of the agreement, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin issued a Notice of Penalty Assessment and Order to Croda, Inc., for the violations of Delaware air quality regulations and the company ’s permit. The Secretary’s Order assesses a penalty of $246,739 to Croda, which includes $16,489 for DNREC cost recovery from responding to and investigating the incident.

Croda, Inc. also has agreed to resolve all violations arising from the operation of Croda’s new plant.

The settlement agreement also calls for DNREC and Croda to define further Croda’s environmental obligations for the Atlas Point facility.

“With Croda having accepted those obligations set forth by DNREC and agreed to necessary remedial actions required by the Department for public health and safety, the settlement with DNREC provides a path forward to resume production of ethylene oxide at the Atlas Point facility upon final approval from DNREC,” a release stated.

The settlement agreement and Secretary’s Order can be found on the DNREC website at https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/secretarys-orders/.

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