PHILADELPHIA – City Officials released the following statements in response to this morning’s fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery:
Mayor Jim Kenney:
“I want to thank the first responders of the Philadelphia Fire Department as well as the Office of Emergency Management for assisting Philadelphia Energy Solutions crews with the speedy and effective response to this incident. The Philadelphia Police Department also provided support by handling road closures and other assistance. I am also thankful the incident appears to have caused no serious injuries.
“Nonetheless, 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. I convened a conference call this morning with leadership of PES, along with PFD and the Managing Director’s Office, and was assured that the two incidents are unrelated in their nature and cause. I was also informed of the speed with which a ‘shelter-in-place’ notification and other communications went out to residents in the immediate aftermath of this morning’s explosion.
“Still, I believe that there is room for improvement, both in the operation of the refinery in light of two fires in as many weeks, and in the communication to residents. To that end, I have asked Managing Director Brian Abernathy and Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel to convene a working group with the leadership of Philadelphia Energy Solutions, as well as members of its Community Advisory Panel, to explore both concerns. A particular focus will be ensuring that air quality questions during such incidents are addressed immediately and communicated effectively to residents.
“Also joining me this morning in the meeting with PES were a number of other elected officials who represent the residents in South and Southwest Philadelphia, including Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, State Representative Maria Donatucci, State Representative Jordan Harris, as well as staffers representing U.S. Senator Bob Casey and U.S. Representative Mary Gay Scanlon. They share my concerns about the need to continuously assess and improve the response to such incidents.
“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.”
Fire Department, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel:
“Members of the Philadelphia Fire Department continue to assist PES with the fire response. It is standard practice when fighting a fire of this type to let the flammable gases burn away in a controlled fashion.
“Earlier this morning, our EMS providers treated one individual on scene who refused transport. We have since learned from PES that four other individuals were treated by their on-site medical clinic.
“The Fire Marshal’s Office will investigate the cause and origin of the fire once the incident is over and the scene is safe to enter. But the investigation will take time. For now, this remains a dynamic situation.”
Health Department, attributed to spokesman James Garrow:
“The Health Department has no findings that would point to any immediate danger in the surrounding community at this time, and the City is NOT recommending evacuation or shelter-in-place.
“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. Samples were also taken from up- and down-wind of the refinery, were transported to the Air Management Service Laboratory, and are currently being tested for the presence of air pollutants. The Health department will release an analysis of these results as soon as the tests are completed, which is expected later today.”