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Philadelphia Oil Refinery's Toxic and Racist Legacy Continues in Cleanup

Philadelphia Oil Refinery's Toxic and Racist Legacy Continues in Cleanup
The Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 21, 2019 after a massive fire was contained. Xinhua / Liu Jie via Getty Images

The sprawling Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery has poisoned the Greys Ferry neighborhood for 150 years, and continues to do so even after it closed in 2019 following numerous explosions, Reuters reports.

The scale of the toxic legacy left by the East Coast's oldest and largest refinery — including poisonous waste fuels poured onto the ground and even buried rail cars — is staggering, and cleanup operations continue to inflict pollution on the predominantly Black neighborhood nearby.

As many as 3,000 tanks and vessels will need to be removed from the site and, "There's enough pipeline to connect you from here to Florida, and the majority of that pipeline today is wrapped in asbestos," said Roberto Perez, CEO of the Chicago-based Hilco Redevelopment Partners that bought the property in June.

Despite the obvious hazards, local residents feel shut out of the remediation process. It was also unclear how or if those residents who have endured decades of toxic pollution will benefit from the hotel and restaurant Hilco is reportedly considering building on the site.

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