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“Philadelphia Energy Solutions is closing its South Philadelphia refinery following an explosion”

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Written by Kennedy Rose  – Editorial Intern, Philadelphia Business Journal Jun 26, 2019

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney confirmed the closure in a statement on Wednesday, saying the refinery will close within the next month. Kenney said he spoke with the CEO and leadership of PES to confirm.

“I’m extremely disappointed for the more than one thousand workers who will be immediately impacted by this closure, as well as other businesses that are dependent on the refinery operations,” Kenney said in the statement.

The refinery employs about 1,000 people. PES is the largest oil refinery on the United States’ Eastern Seaboard, processing 335,000 barrels of crude oil per day, according to the company’s website.

As of Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., there were no WARN filings from PES with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

United Steelworkers local union President Ryan O’Callaghan, who represents refinery workers, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that PES did not disclose any plans for layoffs or the plant’s closure, despite a 60-day layoff notice agreement between PES and the union. 

City leaders will meet with “quasi-governmental organizations” to discuss the potential impacts on the economy and employment, Kenney said. The city will also work to determine the future of the refinery, communicate with local residents and transition the refinery site, per the release.

PES has dealt with financial troubles over the years, including a Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. Replacing equipment destroyed by the fires and explosion could cost PES more than $100 million, the Inquirer reported

Representatives of PES and United Steelworkers did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. KYW Radio reported via Tweet that the union says it will be meeting with company officials at noon today. PES produces gasoline, jet fuel, cleaner-burning diesel, petrochemicals.

The plant caught fire Friday and exploded, and was extinguished Saturday morning, per a statement from the Philadelphia Fire Department. The city will continue to monitor air quality, and the cause of the fire will be investigated by multiple federal agencies.