Croda allowed to resume production of volatile chemical

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The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental granted approval to Croda, Inc. to resume ethylene oxide (EO) production at the company’s Atlas Point site.

British-based Croda received DNREC approval by meeting obligations to improve safety at the newly built facility through actions required by DNREC’s accidental release program, the department announced.

DNREC issued its requirements after investigating the Nov. 25, 2018 accidental release of EO, the volatile chemical substance used in the manufacturing of Croda’s products used for consumer products.

The incident closed the nearby Delaware Memorial bridge for a time as Thanksgiving travelers were headed home. The chemical apparently did not go beyond the Croda site.

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DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin ordered Croda to complete seven accidental release prevention action requirements before the Department would approve the resumption of EO production at Croda’s new ethylene oxide plant.

At DNREC’s direction, Croda completed an internal incident investigation report; a focused process hazard analysis of all EO release points; a fire water system hazard analysis; fire water system procedures training; fire department manifold connection to Croda’s fire water system supply tank; employee training for EO plant operation and emergency procedures; and a safety validation process – also known internally by Croda as the pre-startup safety review.

In addition to DNREC’s requirements, Croda installed automated purge and isolation valves, 26 additional fixed ethylene oxide gas detectors and eight additional closed circuit TV cameras, as well as upgraded its vapor suppression capabilities.

After coordination with DNREC and the New Castle County Office of Emergency Management, Croda also decided to install an emergency siren system to be used in conjunction with several other notification systems for alerting the public in the event of an accidental release by the facility. The system will be installed on or about Jan. 31, 2020.

Within a month of the Nov. 25, 2018 incident, DNREC, along with numerous state and local government agencies and Croda officials, held a public information meeting to review the incident and governmental agencies’ response.

One problem involves informing adjacent neighborhoods if a release is reported. Many homes now have wireless phones that are harder to put on emergency notification systems.

During the post-Thanksgiving release of the chemical, residents were advised for a time to shelter in place.

Croda built the plant after a supplier no longer offered the chemical. Ethylene oxide can be shipped by rail, but could spark a disaster with a derailment.

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