Air samples at Philadelphia refinery fire show no threat to community

Air samples at Philadelphia refinery fire show no threat to community

June 21, 2019– Mary Greeley News – PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Department of Public Health says air samples taken from the scene of a massive refinery fire show no findings that would point to an immediate danger to the surrounding community.

The Department of Public Health says air sample testing at the 150-year-old refinery and surrounding community has found “no ambient carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons (combustibles), or hydrogen sulfides.”

Large pieces of debris were thrown blocks away and rained down onto streets and traffic lights. A plume of thick, black smoke billowed east from the large complex near Philadelphia International Airport and over portions of South Philadelphia, the Delaware River and into South Jersey.

The smoke could be dangerous, according to Peter DeCarlo, a Drexel University professor and air-quality expert.

“Immediate exposure can trigger asthma and other issues,” he cautioned. “If it were me, what I would do is leave the area for as much of the day as possible.”

The Philadelphia Department of Health, however, said that they measured the air and has “no findings that would point to any immediate danger in the surrounding community at this time.”

The Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery is the largest single source of particulate pollution in the Philadelphia area even when there isn’t an emergency.

The commercial refining complex, which came out of bankruptcy last August, is the largest refinery on the East Coast and employs about 1,000 people. Many Philadelphians still call it the Sunoco refinery, though it is now owned by Philadelphia Energy Solutions, a partnership that includes Sunoco. The Carlyle Group owns 10% of the facility and Energy Transfer Partner has an 8% stake, sources told CNBC.

The refinery processes 335,000 barrels of crude oil every day at two plants in the complex — Girard Point and Point Breeze. The fire broke out at the Girard Point portion. Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and petrochemicals are also produced at the plant.

The refinery dates back to the 19th Century, opening a year after the Civil War ended.

“The PES Philadelphia Refining Complex has been “part of the neighborhood” in South Philadelphia for over 150 years and is closely tied to the growth of the American oil industry in the 19th century,” PES says on its website.

Friday’s fire comes nearly two weeks after another incident at the same complex. On June 10, a small fire broke out at the facility. No one was hurt, but it reignited protests by a group of environmentalists and community members who were concerned about the plant’s safety.

Mary Greeley News

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