Before sunrise on a June morning in 2019, a section of pipe nearly five decades old ruptured at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery, spewing a cloud of flammable vapor that hung to the ground like a spectral fog.

Within minutes, according to a surveillance video, a series of explosions in the refinery’s alkylation unit rained huge pieces of shrapnel across the refinery and released 5,239 pounds of hydrofluoric acid (HF), a chemical so toxic that worker-safety advocates have called for its banishment from use in refining.

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Photo Credit: Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Enquirer