CRIS BARRISH, THE DELAWARE NEWS JOURNAL, AUGUST 27, 2996
The Dow Reichhold Specialty Latex plant near Cheswold, which has been in operation since the late 1950s, has been cited and fined numerous times for violations by state environmental officials since 1990, according to News Journal files and state reports.
Violation records before 1990 could not be obtained.
The plant’s chemical releases also have been the subject of federal Environmental Protection Agency reports and criticism by environmentalists.
Bob Cook, spokesman for the Dow Reichhold joint venture that took over the plant in January 2002, stressed that all violations before then were not under the current ownership. Dow Reichhold has one other plant, located in Kensington, Ga.
Dow Reichhold is a joint venture between Dow Chemical and Reichhold Inc. and produces waterborne latex for many products, including gloves and textile coatings.
The plant has about 95 employees, Cook said. He said company policy forbade him from disclosing annual revenues.
David Small, deputy secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said his office “has had some issues” with the moderate-sized facility.
“When they have had them, in a number of cases they used the response to the violation as an opportunity to upgrade their processes and make improvements,” Small said.
In the mid-1990s the company was plagued by odor-related complaints from people living east of U.S. 13 — almost a mile east of the plant — but protests dwindled after Reichhold Chemical, then the owner, invested more than $1.5 million in equipment.
Some of the plant’s history and problems since 1990:
1990: Agreed with the EPA to reduce Butadiene releases from equipment leaks.
1990: Received warning letter from state for an unspecified hazardous-waste violation.
1994: Received warning letter from state for unspecified violation.
1996: Spent $200,000 on new computer control system to settle $20,000 state penalty.
November 1998: Cited by state after reactor used to make latex overpressurized, leading to the release of about 500 pounds of Butadiene. The plant’s emission limit was 6.6 pounds per hour.
December 1998: Cited by state for failing to identify leaking equipment, properly calibrate leak-detection equipment and confirm that known leaks were properly repaired and verified to meet standards.
August 1999: Cited by state for failure to train hazardous-waste handlers and emergency responders.
October 1999: Cited by state for releasing 7.8 pounds of styrene occurred over three hours when a fan belt broke. The plant’s emission limit was 1.75 pounds per hour.
2000: Fined $123,000 by state for releasing excessive amounts of acrylonitrile and other carcinogens, failing to comply with leak detection and repair requirements and failing to submit an application to amend a permit in required time frame. Later that year, the company agreed to spend $150,000 on new equipment.
January 2002: Sold by Reichhold Chemical to Dow Reichhold Specialty Latex LLC.
February 2003: Cited by state for releasing 87.5 pounds of Butadiene. Plant’s emission limit was 36.89 pounds per hour.
January 2004: Cited by state for releasing 25.8 pounds of Butadiene from pump gaskets that failed on the backup pump.
February 2004: A break in a frozen pipe spilled up to 18,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater on plant property.
July 2005: Cited by state for releasing 1,154 pounds of Butadiene when a manual valve was left open.
Aug. 25, 2006: Styrene vapors released from a rail car at the plant, prompting the evacuation of several dozen nearby residents.
Contact senior reporter Cris Barrish at 324-2785 or cbarrish@delaware online.com.