Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

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.

For a deeper dive:


For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less
An Amazon.com Inc. worker walks past a row of vans outside a distribution facility on Feb. 2, 2021 in Hawthorne, California. PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP via Getty Images

Over the past year, Amazon has significantly expanded its warehouses in Southern California, employing residents in communities that have suffered from high unemployment rates, The Guardian reports. But a new report shows the negative environmental impacts of the boom, highlighting its impact on low-income communities of color across Southern California.

Read More Show Less
Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering, holds up his lab's sample of the whitest paint on record. Purdue University / Jared Pike

Scientists at the University of Purdue have developed the whitest and coolest paint on record.

Read More Show Less