Occidental Chemical Corporation
The Occidental Chemical chlorine manufacturing facility was founded in 1965 and located on the banks of the Delaware River, just south of Red Lion Creek. The site includes 20 acres of former manufacturing facilities, 13 acres of waste lakes and landfills, and 215 acres of wetlands. Chemical manufacturing ceased in 2007 and the site is undergoing demolition and decommissioning under oversight by the State of Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Environmental Protection Agency, under the authority of the Solid Waste Disposal Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
From 1964 to 2005 Occidental Chemical Corporation operated as a chlor-alkali plant, manufacturing chlorine, hydrogen, sodium hydroxide, and potassium hydroxide by the electrolysis of sodium chloride and potassium chloride brines. The facility also manufactured anhydrous potassium hydroxide until 2007.
In December 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency selected a remedy for contamination at the site, including removal of and capping of soils and sediments, use of barrier walls and free product removal to protect groundwater, and legal restrictions on the property to prevent future residential or groundwater use.
Contaminants of Concern
The main contaminants that are likely to be present in the soils, surface water, sediments, and groundwater include volatile organics such as benzene, chlorobenzene, vinyl chloride; heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, beryllium, manganese; and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Mercury and the Delaware River
Chlor-alkali manufacturing utilizes mercury and is a major source of mercury emissions worldwide. The Delaware River has mercury of a sufficient level to warrant a fish consumption advisory that recommends “no consumption” of finfish to protect public health.
Fish Consumption Advisory sign on the Delaware River