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Philadelphia Refinery Explosion Press Release

June 22, 2019

On June 21, 2019 an oil refinery in South Philadelphia exploded in a fireball that shook local residents homes.

We wanted to share with you the following press release we sent out yesterday in response to this event in hopes of educating the public.




June 21, 2019


Physicians for Social Responsibility - Pennsylvania

Responds to Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery Fire


Contact: Walter Tsou, MD, MPH

215 435-5769


Pouné Saberi, MD, MPH



Philadelphia, PA— As an oil refining complex in South Philadelphia exploded and burned, Walter Tsou, MD, MPH, Interim Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility - Pennsylvania, and Pouné Saberi, MD, MPH, President of the Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility - Pennsylvania, issued the following statement:


“It is impossible to know the full extent of the health effects from this event without knowing precisely what fossil fuels exploded. Based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), air plumes are migrating over South Philadelphia toward Camden and South Jersey. The precautionary principle mandates that residents in the direction of the air plume should shelter in place until the fire is under control and the fumes are extinguished.


“As of the release of this statement, Air Management Services does not have test results. According to air quality specialists, one concern is that air monitors may not be capturing accurate air pollution data if the plumes do not travel over the site.


“This is the second fire within the past two weeks at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) Refinery. We are deeply concerned for the safety of the workers and nearby residents.


“We hold policy makers like Kenyatta Johnson, Jordan Harris, Mayor Jim Kenny and city council members-at-large accountable for protecting the health of the public from catastrophes such as this one.


“The PES Refining Complex is reportedly the largest on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. It is also the single largest source of stationary air pollution in the region, without any economic benefits for the neighboring community. Approving any other fossil fuel infrastructure in Philadelphia, such as the SEPTA gas plant and liquefied natural gas plant, will create more unacceptable sacrifice zones.”



Physicians for Social Responsibility - Pennsylvania is a nonprofit organization mobilizing medical and health professionals to address the gravest threats to human health and survival, including environmental hazards to health.

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