RAW VIDEO: Chemical leak closes Delaware Memorial Bridge in both directions
Jerry Habraken, John J Jankowski Jr., Delaware News Journal
A toxic gas leak from a chemical plant near the base of the Delaware Memorial Bridge on Sunday shut down all the traffic routes on the busy holiday weekend for more than six hours.
A hazmat crew was called to Croda Inc. in New Castle at 4:16 pm for leaking ethylene oxide, an extremely flammable gas, from a tank on site, according to Holloway Terrace Fire Chief Mark Willis.
At 11:20 am, 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 Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The gas was transferred from the leaking tank to a safe one. More than 70 percent of the gas escaped the chemical tank, said fire company spokesman George Greenley.
As of 11:20 p.m. Sunday, the ethylene oxide was completely contained, the chemical plant announced.
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 911 call to notify residents.
No injuries have been reported.
All north and south lanes of Delaware Memorial Bridge closed around 5 pm as a precautionary measure as crews responded to the leak, Delamware River and Bay Authority spokesman Jim Salmon said.
Interstate 295 was closed at I-95, and traffic was diverted to Commodore Barry, Walt Whitman, or Ben Franklin bridges. The 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.
"We deeply regret the significant inconvenience this has had on the community and those traveling in the area," a press release said.
Dan Heneghan said his son and his daughter-in-law, who is diabetic, were stuck on the New Jersey side of the bridge, trying to return home to northern Virginia. They had just spent the holiday with Heneghan in Ventnor City.
British-based Croda Inc. is an international specialty chemical manufacturer.
Both directions of Delaware Memorial Bridge closed Sunday after reports of a chemical leak from a building on Cherry Lane in New Castle Sunday evening. (Photo: John J. Jankowski Jr./Special to The News Journal)
Atlas Point, Croda's Delaware location, manufactures formulations ranging from pharmaceutical use to industrial chemicals. Croda bought the site from Uniqema in 2006.
The process of turning ethylene into ethylene oxide is new – something Croda started doing less than six months at its Atlas Point location, according to Greenley.
A manufacturing operation has been at Atlas Point for over 75 years.
Contact Josephine Peterson at (302) 324-2856 or [email protected]
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Traffic backed up on Interstate 295 entering Delaware, leaving the Delaware Memorial Bridge at 5:50 pm Both north and south lanes of the bridge are closed after reports of a chemical leak at a building in New Castle. (Photo: DelDOT)
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