Officials with Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) delayed the official closing date for its South Philadelphia oil refinery until Aug. 25, according to a letter sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
PES sent a letter to state officials on June 26 saying the refinery would close July 1 and that 1,024 workers would lose their jobs within 14 days.
The company extended the closing as it continues efforts “to secure the facility in anticipation of potentially rebuilding the damaged infrastructure, and preparing for a possible sale and restart,” William A. Goodheart, senior vice president for PES, said in a July 3 followup letter.
PES announced the closure five days after a June 21 fire destroyed one of its units. Pennsylvania lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf reacted quickly to the news, issuing statements offering support to the workers and pledging an investigation into the fire.
“Labor and Industry’s Rapid Response Coordination Services will immediately initiate outreach to offer the potentially affected workers with the information and services they need to successfully return to the workforce,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a news release.
Wolf said he will also keep an eye on the refinery and while PES officials clean up the damage.
“I am offering the full expertise of the Department of Environment Protection to ensure the company decommissions the plant responsibly and no corners are cut on mitigating environmental damage,” Wolf said in a news release. “Further, there must be a complete investigation of recent fires and the explosion. If any action or failure by the company led to these incidents, there must be accountability.”
A group of lawmakers that includes House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris, Senate Democratic Whip Anthony Williams, Rep. Maria Donatucci, Sen. Larry Farnese, Senate Democratic Secretary, and Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler said in a joint statement the fire sent a shockwave through the community.
“It is our hope that given the plans to sell the complex, new industry can move in and good, quality family-sustaining jobs will continue to be available to the people we represent,” they said in their statement.
The refinery fire could have an impact on regional gas prices but it’s not clear for how long, AAA said in a news release. About 27 percent of the East Coast gas supply came from the Philadelphia refinery, AAA Public and Government Affairs Manager Ken Grant told WRDE.