Heavy Oil Bill

“With this change, there was a dramatic change in air quality, reduction in sulfur dioxide, as well as fine particle pollution,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, who directed New York’s health department at the time the ordinance passed.

Farley said only a few buildings in Philadelphia currently use these dirty oils, so the impact here will be far less.

“But these fine particles from these fuel oils tend to stay near the site … so for the people who might be exposed, this is clearly a benefit.”


By Catalina Jaramillo

HF Monitor at PES Refinery


The city’s health department downplayed the incident Wednesday, saying its Air Management Services (AMS) inspectors suspected the gas meter was not properly calibrated, and requested that the refinery and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency double-check the tests.

“Both confirmed that there was no HF present in the air,” James Garrow, the health department spokesperson, said in an email. “The AMS inspectors took the improperly calibrated meter out of service.”


By Andrew Maykuth


Garrow conceded, however, that one of the city’s meters, which was being used to confirm PES’s own zero readings, had not been functioning properly.

“[Air Monitoring Service] inspectors tested for the presence of HF to confirm the zero readings reported by PES,” Garrow said. “Due to the meter not being properly calibrated, the inspectors requested that the EPA and PES confirm the zero readings. Both confirmed that there was no HF present in the air. The AMS inspectors took the improperly calibrated meter out of service.”


By Dana Bate

PES Fire Press Conference


But Philadelphia’s deputy health commissioner, Caroline Johnson, said the windy day helped clear the air of any pollutants that could have affected city residents.

“Based on aggressive sampling of air quality in the region of PES, we found nothing of concern, and we see no evidence that there’s been an impact on the health of the public in Philadelphia,” Johnson said.


By Susan Phillips and Dana Bate


Deputy Health Commissioner Caroline Johnson said Air Management Services has been doing “aggressive” monitoring of chemicals associated with fires and burning fuel.

“They have been doing daily inspections in the community and along the fence line of PES (Philadelphia Energy Solutions), and all of those have been negative,” she said, adding there’s no evidence of any other public health effects.


By Pat Loeb


Dr. Caroline Johnson said Health Department staff have been conducting “very aggressive” air quality monitoring in neighborhoods surrounding Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ Girard Point refinery since Friday morning.


By Vince Lattanzio


Dr. Caroline Johnson, a deputy health commissioner for the city, said experts had been carefully checking air quality for any increase in noxious chemicals and found none. On Friday, she said, tests showed very minor elevations of acetone and ethanol, but those quickly abated.

She noted that there was no evidence of any release of hydrogen fluoride, a deadly chemical used in refining. Nor, she said, was there any spike in visits to area emergency rooms for breathing problems.


By Willliam Bender and Craig McCoy


While the scene at PES is still active, there is no threat to the community, officials said.

Health officials said air quality monitoring is ongoing.


By Max Bennett


The city’s deputy health commissioner said Tuesday that aggressive air monitoring has turned up nothing of note and that emergency rooms have not reported increases in people with respiratory distress.

Dr. Caroline Johnson also said air samples tested for 61 chemical compounds found “very minor” elevations of acetone and ethanol Friday but nothing since then.


Inquirer 2

Health concerns: Mayor Jim Kenney notes that “there are no findings that would suggest a threat to public health.” Dr. Caroline Johnson, a deputy health commissioner for the city, said hydrogen fluoride was not released.


By Patricia Madej

Curbed Philly

Philly’s Department of Public Health reported Friday that they took samples of the air with hand monitors right outside the plant and through the neighborhood, looking for hydrocarbons, combustibles, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon monoxide. All tests came back negative, said the health department’s communications director James Garrow.

The department conducted 18 more tests over the weekend, all of which came back negative, he said Monday.

On Saturday and Sunday the department also took grab samples and tested the air around the plant for 61 different volatile compounds. All 61 compounds came back as being below legal limits, though two compounds—acetone and ethanol—were reported as being higher than usual, Garrow said.


By Anna Merriman

PES Fire and Explosion


Two air samples taken by the Philadelphia Health Department later Friday morning found that none of 61 chemical compounds tested were at unsafe levels, an official with the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management said.


By Staff


The Department of Public Health says air sample testing at the 150-year-old refinery and surrounding community has found “no ambient carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons (combustibles), or hydrogen sulfides.”


By Staff


The Philadelphia Department of Public Health said that there is no danger in the surrounding community. It’s preliminary testing showed no signs of ambient carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons (combustibles), or hydrogen sulfides in the air samples.


By Maggie Fitzgerald


The city’s Department of Public Health Air Management Services Lab “is testing samples taken from up- and downwind of the refinery fire,” according to James Garrow, spokesman for the department.
The department will continue working with Philadelphia Energy Solutions to monitor air quality, Garrow said, before adding that he was “not aware of any immediate danger from the fire.”


By Jason Hanna, Madeline Holcomb, and Joe Sutton


“Preliminary testing both at the site of the refinery and in the adjacent community has shown no ambient carbon monoxide, hydrocarbobutanens (combustibles), or hydrogen sulfide,” James Garrow, spokesperson for the health department, said in a statement.


By Frank Kummer


The Health Department does not have any findings indicating any danger at this time, spokesman James Garrow said in an email. Preliminary testing – both at the refinery and in the adjacent community – did not reveal any ambient carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons or hydrogen sulfide.


By John Kopp


Philadelphia’s Public Health Department said in a tweet that the city’s Air Management Services took samples at the refinery and in the immediate community “found no ambient carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons (combustibles), or hydrogen sulfides”—all toxic chemicals that are commonly found in oil refinery facilities.


By Caroline Haskins


The Philadelphia Department of Public Health said in a statement that preliminary air sampling at the refinery and adjacent sites has shown no ambient carbon monoxide, combustible hydrocarbons or hydrogen sulfide.


By Staff


“The Health Department has no findings that would point to any immediate danger in the surrounding community at this time, and the City is NOT recommending evacuation or shelter-in-place,” says Health Department spokesman James Garrow in the City’s press release.


By Alex Mulcahy


“The Health Department maintains a working relationship with PES. We maintain an air monitor close to the refinery that operates 24/7, receive notifications of exceedances of emission limits from them, and can and do issues notices of violations for exceedances. They are required to submit plans and models for their plants to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local air pollution regulations. With regard to today’s fire, the Health Department had inspectors on-scene as soon as possible taking samples and testing the air for immediate health hazards. The samples are currently being tested, and monitoring will continue.”


By Pat Loeb


“Based on the result of samples taken this morning, the health department has no findings that would suggest there is a threat to the public health as a result of today’s fire,” department director with the Office of Emergency Management Noel Feleza said.


By Alexandria Hoff

Inquirer 2

City health spokesman James Garrow said the city took air quality samples both up- and downwind of the refinery. The samples were taken to the city’s Air Management Service Laboratory and were tested for 61 different chemical compounds, none of which were found to be at “or even near” harmful levels.


By Joseph Gambardello, Andrew Maykuth and Patricia Madej

NBC10 2 (6-23-19)

The Philadelphia Fire Department’s hazmat unit and the Department of Public Health will continue to test the air for any hazards.

So far, they have not found anything unsafe, officials said.


By Staff

KYW 2 (6-23-19)

“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,” James Garrow, spokesman for city’s Department of Public Health Air Management Services Lab said Friday.


By Kevin Wright and Pat Loeb

US News and World Report

City health officials said in the afternoon that there were no findings suggesting any dangers to the surrounding community, said Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesman James Garrow in a statement. He said no HF was detected during monitoring outside of the refinery as well.


By Jarrett Renshaw


Four hours after the explosions, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health tweeted, “No findings that would point to any immediate danger in the surrounding community.”


By Staff


According to city officials, Friday’s explosion has not worsened the air quality in or around the plant. James Garrow, the director for communications for Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health, said officials went to the refinery early Friday morning to collect up- and downwind samples and conduct airtime monitoring around the area. Garrow said they didn’t find any elevated levels of carbon monoxide and other combustibles in nearby communities. “Our readings told us that there was no threat to human health,” Garrow told Grist.


By Rachel Ramirez

Inquirer 3 (6-23-2019)

owever, Air Management Services, which also issues violations for air pollutants, has repeatedly flagged the refinery for its emissions in the recent past. It found the refinery had “High Priority Violations” of the Clean Air Act in nine of the last 12 quarters.

Garrow said High Priority Violations of the Clean Air Act “are those which warrant additional scrutiny to ensure local state and federal agencies respond in an appropriate manner.”


By Frank Kummer

PhillyVoice 2 (6-23-2019)

The Philadelphia Department of Health tested the air quality on Friday. The department collected samples from up-wind and down-wind of the refinery and tested the air samples for 61 chemicals. According to the department, there were no compounds found to be “above, or even near, the levels set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists as safe for workers who are exposed every day for a lifetime.”


By Virginia Streva

Philly Tribune

Health Department tests done Friday found no hazards in the air, city officials said.


By Jake Blumgart


The Philadelphia Health Department said that officials took air samples after the explosion on Friday and that preliminary tests had found no ambient carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons or hydrogen sulfides.

Other samples were being tested. The department said it had “no findings that would point to any immediate danger in the surrounding community at this time.”

By Sarah Mervosh

Curbed Philly

Philly’s Department of Public Health took samples of the air with hand monitors outside the plant and through the neighborhood, looking for hydrocarbons, combustibles, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon monoxide. All tests came back negative, said the health department’s communications director James Garrow.


By Anna Merriman