A massive fire broke out suddenly at a crude oil refinery in Philadelphia on Friday morning, causing several explosions and sending flames high into the sky. Authorities said “the fire broke out about 4 a.m. at Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex, which claims to be the largest oil refining complex on the East Coast. Nearby residents said the eruption was so fierce that it shook picture frames from the walls and could be felt miles away in South Jersey.” according to some local news reports. The cause of fire was not clear till now.
A spokeswoman of the company said “the substance that is burning is believed to be mostly propane. Fire officials said earlier that it was a vat of butane that had caught fire.” The explosion began came from a vat of butane in the 30000 barrels alkylation unit that uses hydrofluoric acid which is one of deadliest chemicals in refining. Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said in a news conference that “The fire cannot be placed under control because of the propane and butane that’s burning in the vat, which is being fed by a main.
The Philadelphia Fire Department is supporting Philadelphia Energy Solutions emergency responders to ensure that the blaze does not spread.” Craig Murphy also added “The main has to be shutdown to put out the fire but Philadelphia Energy Solutions says they are unable to get to the valve that would shut off the main and this is going to be a long operation.” Meanwhile Philadelphia Energy Solutions spokeswoman Cherice Corley said in a statement that “there were three separate explosions on an alkylation unit. Four people suffered minor injuries but all were treated at the scene.” 120 firefighters are trying to stop the flames being spread with 51 apparatus on the scene.
The oil refinery makes 335000 barrels per day and has more than 1000 people working in it. James Garrow who is a spokesman of Department of Public Health Air Management Services Lab said “The department will continue working with Philadelphia Energy Solutions to monitor air quality and we are not aware of any immediate danger from the fire.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.” Philadelphia Fire Department spokeswoman Kathy Matheson told “It was the second fire to occur at Philadelphia Energy Solutions this month.
The refinery experienced another blaze on June 10″ The place in the south of the city which is a few miles far from Philadelphia International Airport is the 10th largest refinery in the United States and also the largest oil refining complex on the Eastern Seaboard. Deputy Fire Commissioner Murphy said that “It was safer to burn off the fuel rather than fully extinguish the blaze since the gases would still be flowing into the atmosphere.” Intelligence provider Genscape told the reporters that “The crude section at the Girard Point section of the refinery that was opened by Gulf Oil Corp in 1926, was closed down.”