The horrific Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery explosion of June 21, 2019 had the potential of becoming a total calamity, according to investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board or CSB. As it was, the disaster was somewhat contained but nonetheless pointed to larger problems that surround the prospect of other oil refinery explosion incidents in the United States. Investigators from the CSB have just issued their report on the catastrophe in March 2021.
The Philadelphia Energy Solutions facility had been the largest oil refinery on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Less than a week after the oil refinery explosion, the South Philly plant was shuttered with no specific plans for it to reopen. Philadelphia Energy Solutions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the aftermath of its oil refinery explosion. The bankruptcy judge evidently is considering the prospect of selling the assets of facility to pay creditors’ debts or perhaps reopening the oil refinery under certain conditions and with different ownership. The possibility exists that a creditors’ group might take ownership and restart refinery operations at the sprawling complex.
CSB investigators found that initial reports that highly toxic hydrofluoric acid had not been released into the atmosphere as the result of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery explosion were false. The company itself evidently indicated that its safety protocols prevented the released of toxic hydrofluoric acid from the facility. Hydrofluoric acid becomes poisonous hydrogen fluoride in its gaseous state.
The Philadelphia Health Department was dispatched to monitor airborne contaminants that presented a threat to human health and welfare directly after the Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery explosion. The health agency’s testing in fact resulted in an indication of elevated levels of toxic hydrogen fluoride gas in the vicinity of the Philadelphia oil refinery. The Philadelphia Health Department dismissed the test results as being a “false positive reading. As of March 2021, the health department has provided no information as to why the agency wrote off the test results when in fact the dangerous gas had been released into the atmosphere as a consequence of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery explosion.
The CSB report confirmed that 5,239 pounds of hydrofluoric acid was released as a result of the oil refinery explosion, of which 3,271 pounds of the toxic substance entered the atmosphere in South Philly in the form of hydrogen fluoride.
Exposure to hydrogen fluoride can have serious health consequences. These include:
- Permanent lung injury
- Pulmonary edema resulting in death
- Destruction of bone matter
- Destruction of skin tissue
Even exposure to a small amount of hydrogen fluoride can have severe consequences. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has hydrogen fluoride on its list of chemical agents thought to be threats to the U.S. population because of terrorists’ designs against the nation. In simple terms, this chemical can and does kill – sometimes rapidly, other times more gradually.
The CSB report makes note that 48 of the 150 oil refineries in operation in the United States use hydrofluoric acid in their operations. The agency underscores that there are safer alternatives available to oil refineries than the use of highly toxic hydrofluoric acid. The agency has made recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider existing the effectiveness of existing regulations the EPA has in place in regard to hydrofluoric acid.
If you or a loved on has been injured in an oil refinery explosion or chemical plant accident, the legal team at The Doan Law Firm is here for you. A nationwide law firm, you can connect with an oil refinery explosion lawyer any time by calling (800) 349-0000.
If you were employed by the Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery or live in the vicinity of the complex, you may have concerns about your legal rights. The Doan Law Firm has an office in Philly conveniently located at:
1650 Market Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
We can schedule an initial consultation at our Philadelphia office, or any one of our offices located from coast to coast. We can also arrange a virtual consultation online. There is never a change for an initial consultation and case evaluation.
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