New Jersey

Gasket Blamed for Gas Leak That Snarled Delaware Memorial Bridge on Thanksgiving Weekend

Fire officials waited for pressure to dissipate in the pipes at the plant before reopening the bridge more than 6 hours after it was closed

What to Know

  • The leak of a flammable chemical from a plant next to the Delaware Memorial Bridge forced a sudden closure of the bridge Sunday evening.
  • Bridge officials said chemical plant staff requested the closure as a precaution. The shut down caused a traffic nightmare.
  • Ethylene oxide, a flammable and potentially hazardous chemical, was leaking from a gasket failure at the plant.

A preliminary investigation has found that a gasket failure caused a chemical gas leak that forced the temporary closure of a heavily used bridge connecting Delaware and New Jersey on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Officials with Croda Inc. said Tuesday that initial findings show that an incorrect gasket fitted on a pipe during construction of its Delaware ethylene oxide production plant failed Sunday.

The company is sending the gasket to independent experts for analysis and confirmation. Production of ethylene oxide, which is highly flammable, has been suspended while other equipment is inspected over the next two weeks.

The leak forced the precautionary closure of the Delaware Memorial Bridge for several hours as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend wound down.

An average of 80,000 vehicles cross the span which feeds the New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 295 in New Jersey and Interstate 95 in northern Delaware.

Bridge officials described the roads leading to the spans as a "parking lot" at the start of the closure.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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