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Major Explosions Rock Largest Oil Refinery On US East Coast

Several explosions and a huge fire rocked the largest oil refining complex on the Eastern seaboard in southwest Philadelphia early on Friday, with early reports saying there aren’t any people injured while the cause of the incident is yet unknown. 

The massive fire and the explosions that witnesses and nearby residents heard and saw rocked the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex, which started its first refining operations back in 1870.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ refinery complex has a total refining capacity of 335,000 bpd and is the largest such complex on the U.S. Eastern seaboard, according to PES’s website.

The fire erupted shortly before 4 a.m. local time with flames shooting in the sky, eyewitnesses told CBS Philly. Witnesses heard two or three explosions at the refinery complex, which shook homes in Philadelphia and as far as South Jersey, according to NBC Philadelphia.

Firefighters have already contained the fire within the refinery complex, officials told NBC Philadelphia shortly before 6 a.m., while roads have been closed and city emergency services issued a shelter-in-place for the neighborhood around the refinery.

No evacuations have been ordered.

The fire erupted at the Girard Point part of the refinery complex, NBC Philadelphia reported.

According to deputy fire commissioner Craig Murphy, a vat of butane ignited and eventually exploded, NBC Philadelphia says. The fire spread through the pipes in the complex, causing a series of smaller explosions. One worker was at the site at the time of the explosion, but was far away enough to escape serious harm, Murphy told NBC Philadelphia.

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The fire that broke out on Friday morning is the second fire this month at the same refinery complex. On June 10, a fire broke out at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex, affecting the facility’s 50,000-bpd catalytic cracking unit, a source familiar with the refinery operations told Reuters.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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