South Philly residents voice concerns over fumes after refinery explosion

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some residents from South Philadelphia continue to say they are still being bothered by odors and fumes coming from the soon-to-be shuttered Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery.

At 24th and Passyunk Wednesday afternoon, about three-quarters of a mile from the plant, Danny Trignani said he and his wife were driving into the area today when both notice what smelled like a chemical solvent.
"It smelled like acetone, like nail polish remover," he said.

Others said while it is not a constant problem, they smell what appears to be petroleum fumes that can sting their eyes.

It worries some we talked to, including Deanna Majette-Jones who is from Northeast Philadelphia, but she often travels to her old neighborhood in South Philadelphia.

"We are inhaling it, we don't know what it is. It could be toxic " she said.

The recent complaints about odors began earlier this month. Last week, the city issued a statement saying residents should not be alarmed at this time. Air quality continues to be monitored by the Philadelphia Fire Department Hazmat Unit and all tests are negative.

Five days after the June 21 fire, which remains under investigation, Philadelphia Energy Solutions sent a notice to state labor officials that it will shut the plant down.

The fire significantly damaged equipment and systems at a complex that was already struggling financially, the company said.

The 150-year-old complex processes 335,000 barrels of crude oil daily into gasoline, jet fuel, propane, home heating oil and other products, according to the company. It started as a bulk petroleum storage facility in 1866 and began refinery operations in 1870.

The fire erupted in a tank containing a mix of butane and propane, a fire official said.

Five workers were treated for minor injuries.
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