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A massive explosion at an old oil refinery shook South Philadephia early Friday morning, causing the city to issue orders for nearby residents to shelter in place, and the fire, while controlled, continued to burn into Saturday until the refinery was able to turn off a valve, according to Philadelphia fire and emergency management officials. The explosion occurred after one of a series of gas blasts at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery sent a fireball into the air and “rocked people awake” for miles at around 4:30 a.m. Four workers at the plant were injured, but the blast, according to Reuters, “renewed concerns about the oil industry’s use of a highly toxic chemical to make high-octane gasoline at plants in densely populated areas.”
Why This Matters: Aging refineries and industrial facilities sited in large urban areas are a real risk and their safety must be very closely monitored and they should potentially be closed if they do not meet strict safety standards.
Reuters reported that “one of the explosions took place in a hydrofluoric acid alkylation unit – a chemical processing unit that has been involved in three near-misses of releases into cities in California, Texas and Wisconsin, according to safety officials.”
Hydrofluoric acid (HF) “can form a toxic cloud at room temperature while exposure can lead to severe health problems and even death.”
“Refinery workers and surrounding community residents are rightly concerned about the adequacy of the risk management for the use of hazardous chemicals like HF,” the CSB told the EPA after its investigations of fires at refineries in Wisconsin, California, and Texas.
This morning, one of our forecasters noticed that the refinery explosion in #Philadelphia was captured on satellite. The heat signature is so large and hot it could be detected using infrared imagery. pic.twitter.com/2zTcSM8n5U
In 2020, oil and gas use is down but methane leaks are up dramatically during the same time period according to a study by the energy data firm Kayrros, Reuters and The Washington Post reported. Oil and gas companies had pledged to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer New Delhi officials have “introduced an antipollution campaign in an attempt to curb air pollution ahead of winter, when the city is regularly covered in toxic haze,” the Associated Press reported this week. The city of 21 million people New Delhi has some of the worst air quality in […]
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