The NEC and the Chemical Industry

Croda — New Castle, DE


The Delmarva Peninsula has attracted chemical manufacturing for over a century due to its proximity to ports along the Delaware River. It is highly dependent on exports to drive job growth; between 2006 and 2010, exports from Delmarva grew at nearly twice the national average.1 Businesses in the Peninsula export commodities such as chemicals, electronics, and transportation equipment to major markets in North America, Asia, and Europe.

The Delmarva Secondary line runs from the NEC south through the heart of Delaware, connecting to a number of branch lines operated by Norfolk Southern and a handful of short line railroads. Freight rail is critical for the chemical supply chain; imports like ethanol are too corrosive to be transported by pipeline, while processed liquids and plastics are most economically exported by rail. The importance of Delmarva’s chemical industry may grow as the expansion of domestic energy production is making local chemical manufacturers more competitive compared to operators in Europe and Asia.2

Croda is a specialty chemical company focused on developing and producing surfactants (chemical agents used to combine two materials that in their natural state do not readily mix). Croda has a production facility on 150 acres adjacent to the Delaware River in New Castle, Delaware. The company produces chemicals that are used in millions of applications from hair care to industrial lubricants. Croda’s New Castle production facility has been operating since 1937, with over 200 full-time staff and more than 50 contractors working at the site today.

Freight rail is used to deliver several different raw materials onto the site every work day. One of the primary ingredients used at the facility is oxides that can only be shipped by rail as it presents both inhalation and explosive hazards.

DE - Memorial Bridge
The Delaware Memorial Bridge (New Castle, DE) serves industrial campuses, including Croda. Source: Chris Connelly

“Due to the quantity of materials we receive by rail and the fact that we can only receive oxides by rail, access to rail is very important for our operations.”

Robert Stewart, Site Director, Croda Inc., Delaware

1. IHS Global Insight. 2012. Importance of Freight to the Delmarva Peninsula. Delmarva Freight Summit 2012. Dover, DE.

2. IHS Global Insight. 2013. Delaware Chemical Supply Chain. Delmarva Freight Summit 2013. New Castle, DE.