Harris releases statement on Philadelphia Energy Solution Explosion

HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., House Democratic Whip, released the following statement in response to this morning’s explosion at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery:

“First and foremost, I’m relieved to hear that as of this point, officials believe there are no injuries in the explosion that ripped through the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery on Passyunk Avenue early today. The safety of the employees, first responders and citizens that live in South and Southwest Philadelphia is of the utmost importance.

“Though this incident occurred outside my district, the flames and smoke were clearly visible from our community and my constituents have a right to be concerned about their safety and well-being. Over 150,000 people live in South and Southwest Philadelphia and we deserve the peace of mind of knowing that our homes and lives are not in danger.

“Government at all levels, local, state and federal, has a job to do to ensure that the proper safety standards are met and our industrial complexes, which provide thousands of jobs to local residents, are operating in a safe and efficient manner. Though this directly impacts South Philadelphia, the entire city and region breathes the same air and drinks the same water. Incidents like this must be taken seriously to ensure public safety, and I’m extremely concerned that this is the second explosion within two weeks at the same facility.

“While we must balance the fact that we are all environmental stewards for future generations with the need to maintain a diverse energy portfolio, we simply cannot sacrifice safety measures or environmental standards at the expense of the communities we represent. I’ve been in contact with state Representative Maria Donatucci, state Senator Anthony Williams, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, the office of Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Mayor Jim Kenney and other city officials to ensure that the situation is under control and there is a full investigation into the cause of today’s explosion.

“Currently, we’re being told there is no environmental risk and air-quality readings continue to be normal. I implore PES and the Department of Environmental Protection to continue to monitor this situation, as I will, to ensure that residents of South Philadelphia and the surrounding communities are not subject to harmful pollutants. We’ve also been told PES is in contact with the Community Advisory Panel and information is being further disseminated to the public. It’s imperative that this continue and the people I represent are kept up to date and fully informed of the situation.

“Beyond that, I plan to work with officials at all levels to get to the bottom of this and give our community members the confidence they deserve that incidents like this are taken extremely seriously and the health of our communities and our environment is a top priority.”