Dan Wing/KYW Newsradio

Investigation gets set to begin as city says South Philly refinery fire is out

June 23, 2019 - 5:34 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio/CNN) — The city has announced that the refinery fire, which began after an early Friday morning explosion, has been extinguished and an investigation is gearing up to find out how and why this happened. 

After burning for more than 24 hours, what we know so far is that the incident began with an explosion from a vat of butane and propane at Philadelphia Energy Solutions.

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In an update Sunday, the Philadelphia Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management said, “the gas valve fueling the fire has been shut off,” and that “the tank involved in the explosion/fire has been isolated.”

The investigation, which will include personnel from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board; and the PFD Fire Marshal’s Office, will begin Monday morning into the cause of the fire.

In a statement Friday, Mayor Jim Kenney addressed multiple topics surrounding this incident as well as community concerns, “I am aware of the concerns of the residents around the refinery in light of this incident, as well as another fire on June 10th.

The release would go on to say, “A particular focus will be ensuring that air quality questions during such incidents are addressed immediately and communicated effectively to residents.”

Lastly, Kenney added, “Those who live and work in close proximity to the refinery and all Philadelphians have our word — we are firmly committed to ensuring the safe operation of the refinery, and the safety of those in its vicinity.”

However, residents and environmental groups took to City Hall, later that day, demanding answers.

"We want one public meeting where the different agencies come together to explain to the public what actually happened and what action's going to be taken because we've got a whole community in South Philly that wants answers," said Alexa Ross with Philly Thrive.

Currently, Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health and PFD’s hazmat unit are continuing to monitor air quality around the refinery, officials say.

"Preliminary testing both at the site of the refinery and in the adjacent community has shown no ambient carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons (combustibles), or hydrogen sulfide," James Garrow, spokesman for city's Department of Public Health Air Management Services Lab said Friday.

PES is the 10th largest refinery in the US and refines about 335,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to the company's website.

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KYW Newsradio's Kevin Wright, Pat Loeb and CNN-Wire™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report.