CSB PES Explosion Report Release


City Managing Director Brian Abernathy said officials have been clear in their communication with residents, listened to their concerns, and created an advisory group.

“I’m a little disappointed that folks feel like we lied to them. … We have been very forthright throughout this process that there were chemicals released in the air,” Abernathy said.


By Ellie Silverman

Philly Magazine

City spokesperson Deana Gamble said on Wednesday that the city’s air quality meter had not been properly calibrated at the time of the measurement, and that inspectors with the city’s Air Management Services had asked the Environmental Protection Agency and PES to confirm “zero readings” for hydrogen fluoride.

“Both confirmed that there was no HF present in the community, and the AMS inspectors took the improperly calibrated meter out of service,” Gamble said. “AMS subsequently confirmed with the manufacturer that the handheld device was in fact in need of recalibration and was thus unreliable when used immediately after the fire.”


By Claire Sasko

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