This past month, Philadelphia was rocked by a massive refinery explosion that released smoke and toxic chemicals into the sky. The explosion occurred at 4am and was visible throughout the city, and residents were warned to shelter in place until the fire was more contained.

Luckily, reports indicate that no one was killed, but five workers were injured in the explosion. The refinery in question, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, has been responsible in the past for 72% of Philadelphia’s toxic emissions. After this explosion, the refinery will close.

However, the explosion was nearly deadly, as the fires could have moved to burn tanks containing Hydrogen Fluoride, an incredibly dangerous chemical that can be lethal even if inhaled in small doses. Hydrogen Fluoride is a commonly used in oil refineries across the US, and these refineries commonly burn— like the Husky Superior Refinery in the Twin Ports area of Wisconsin in April of last year. In the Husky Refinery explosion, the HF tanks were about 200 feet away from the fires and narrowly missed being hit by debris. If the HF tanks had been detonated in the Philadelphia Refinery explosion, hundreds of thousands of people’s lives would have been at risk.

While the Philadelphia refinery is closing, the Twin Ports Refinery is not, nor are many HF using refineries across the United States. Even though many citizens have demanded that these refineries remove the chemical from there practice, it is not currently banned in the United States. Why, then, are oil companies continuing to risk disaster? <Read More>