Nearly a year to the date since chemical company, Croda Inc., experienced a toxic gas leak at Atlas Point on the Delaware River, environmental officials have given the go-ahead to reopen the plant. In November 2018, a gasket failure caused the leak of more than a ton of ethylene oxide, a highly flammable substance used to bind oil and water together, and one that certain government agencies classify as a carcinogen.
The accident shut down the Delaware Memorial Bridge and brought Thanksgiving traffic to a crawl on local roadways for seven hours while firefighters poured gallons of water on the plant and its pipe system. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and state agencies fined Croda more than $500,000 for offenses, including operating the 82-year old plant without proper inspections, inadequate employee training, and other operational failures.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, short-term exposure to ethylene oxide causes drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. A person who comes into skin contact with the gas can experience blisters, burns, frostbite, and swelling. Chronic exposure can lead to nerve damage, respiratory infection, leukemia, and stomach cancer.
In a statement issued by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the department confirmed Croda completed all of the adjustments and safety measures ordered by the state, including an internal investigation report and an analysis of leak hazards, fire management training, and plant operation and emergency preparedness. Valves were added to isolate and disburse toxic chemicals in addition to the installation of more than 25 ethylene gas detectors.
While firefighters on the scene were able to contain most of the ethylene oxide in and around the plant, there are concerns regarding ground leaks and the potential for exposure to communities surrounding the plant. At a meeting shortly after the plant accident, neighbors gathered to question state officials about why a plant producing and storing hazardous chemicals was permitted to operate so close to well-traveled bridges and highways.
Local political leaders are tasked with balancing the promise of thousands of blue-collar jobs and industrial growth with the potential risks to residents, commuters, and the environment. Croda is responsible for monitoring underground ethylene oxide levels and reporting its findings to the state moving forward.
If you suspect you or a loved one became ill by exposure to a dangerous substance, you may have cause to bring a toxic tort claim against the person or company who allowed this exposure. The Wilmington environmental lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. take on challenging toxic tort cases and work tirelessly to prove that someone’s negligence led to your acute or chronic condition. Call us at 302-656-5445 or use the online contact form to schedule a free consultation today, Located in Wilmington or Millsboro, Delaware. we represent clients throughout the state, including Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.