Refinery Update

08 - Refinery

Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel declared the incident (explosion and fire) that happened on June 21st under control.  Declaring it under control shows that emergency responders are confident all hazards have been confined to the immediate site of the incident and there is no longer a need to be on site. There was a fire department presentation on-site between June 21st and September 24th

The refinery is not refining any longer.  A “skeleton crew” is onsite to maintain and monitor the facility.

The hydrofluoric acid that was on site has been neutralized and safely disposed of. 

The public was invited to an open house in South Philadelphia on September 25th to review the information gathered at previous public meetings regarding the June 21st incident and the closing of the refinery.  

There were many items that people were in agreement on.  These include: People should be kept safe and healthy, both the community and the workers.  There should be high-quality jobs and job training available for workers and community members. Residents and taxpayers should not bear the cost of remediation and cleanup.  

When it came to what should happen with the site, people were at odds with whether it should be a refinery again, whether the site is safe and whether the City should seize the property. 

Communication was an issue for the people who live near the refinery.  They felt that there was not good communication on the day of the fire and since.  People are worried about the health impacts, even now that the site is closed.

A wide range of potential other uses was thought of.  Industrial use suggestions consisted of port expansion, warehouse or distribution center, recycling center, and energy production: co-gen power plant, biofuels, trash to steam, natural gas, solar, wind, nuclear power plant, part refinery/part alternative energy.

Commercial use suggestions were to reuse the land similar to the Navy Yard, create a corridor for tech/startups, establish a research facility and job training facility.

There were many green and open space ideas including climate change mitigation: wetlands, trees, sea walls, habitat restoration, bioremediation:  remediating grasses, mushrooms, oysters, an amusement park, extend existing trails and connect FDR Park and Bartram’s Garden.

It’s unclear what the future holds for the site.  The City does not own it and has no plans to take control of it at this time. Sunoco is responsible for cleaning up contaminants that occurred before 2012 and PES is responsible for cleaning up contaminants that occurred since they bought it from Sunoco in 2012.

Questions and comments regarding the refinery can be sent to

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