Owners of a closed Philadelphia oil refinery will make good on $1.8 million of the city’s emergency response costs after an explosion and fire in June 2019 at the industrial complex, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Mark J. Smith, CEO of bankrupt Philadelphia Energy Solutions, said its insurance carriers have agreed to cover the costs of the extended three-month response. A large quantity of toxic hydrofluoric acid needed to be neutralized and removed after the fire.
PES filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the wake of the disaster. A sale of the property to a Chicago-based redevelopment company expected in mid-May.
Philadelphia officials filed a motion in bankruptcy court Monday seeking reimbursement for its costs in dealing with the emergency, claiming that those costs were recoverable by law. The city asked that the money come from the proceeds of the expected sale.
Federal investigators believe a ruptured pipe elbow released process fluid containing hydrofluoric acid that created a flammable vapor cloud. The cloud subsequently ignited minutes later.
According to the Chemical Safety Board, measurement of the pipe elbow shows that it had corroded to only 0.012 of an inch thickness, about half that of a credit card. Operating pressures at the time of the release were estimated at 380 pounds per square inch.
PES estimated that about 676,000 pounds of hydrocarbon was released overall, most of which burned. An estimated 5,239 pounds of corrosive and toxic hydrofluoric acid was also released, of which only 2,000 pounds were recovered and processed through the refinery wastewater treatment system.
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