Vertellus Leak Prompts Evacuation


A chemical leak Saturday from a valve on an outdoor tank at Vertellus Specialties plant in Delaware Water Gap, Pa., forced the evacuation of nearby homes but caused no injuries to employees or damage to equipment, according to a Vertellus official. The plant makes alkenyl succinic anhydrides, which are used in engine oil additives.

The leakoccurred at 7:45 a.m. Saturday, according to Bob Morlino, president of Vertelluss health and specialty products division (formerly Heico Chemicals). Five employees were on the site at the time of the incident, Morlino said.

Get alerts when new Sustainability Blog articles are available.


There was a leak from a valve during a reaction that was going on, Morlino explained to Lube Report yesterday. This incident involved alkenyl succinic anhydrides. Most of our products there are going into the pharmaceutical, food and epoxy hardener markets. We do sell a little bit into lubricants, but were not a big player in that market.

The company does not yet have figures for how much material leaked out of the tank. We do know we charged 17,000 lbs. of reactants into the vessel, which is the normal batch size for that particular vessel, and that not all of the material leaked out of it, Morlino said. This leak occurred at top of the vessel, not at the bottom. The other reactants involved were octene, which is flammable, and maleic anhydride.

He confirmed that fire departments from Delaware Water Gap, Marshalls Creek, Shawnee and Stroud Township responded, along with Delaware Water Gap police and state police from Swiftwater. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection also sent an emergency responder.

The local fire department decided they wanted to evacuate the people in the area, Morlino recalled. One of the reactants was a flammable liquid, and it spilled out into our containment area. They just wanted to make sure that in case an ignition source started a fire, there was no fire. People were back in their houses later that afternoon. They just were being very cautious, and theres nothing wrong with that.

Morlino said HMHTTC Response Inc., a hazardous materials cleanup company contracted by Vertellus, responded to the scene to assist with cleanup, which was completed within about 24 hours. He said Vertellus is conducting an investigation into the incident. There was no damage to equipment, Morlino said. The only reason we havent started up yet is that we require a firm understanding of what exactly happened. We expect to start back up, and they may be starting up today.

Private equity firm Arsenal Capital Partners in December 2007 sold Vertellus Specialties Inc. to Wind Point Partners, another private equity firm. In 2006, New York-based Arsenal formed Vertellus, headquartered in Indianapolis, through the merger of its portfolio companies Reilly Industries and Rutherford Chemicals, Heicos parent company.

Related Topics

Market Topics