FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2019
Contact: Alexa Ross, [email protected], 215-987-5972
Statement on Closure of Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery
The news that Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) will begin to the process of refinery closure comes after generations of Philadelphians have tirelessly drawn the connections between the health epidemic in surrounding neighborhoods and the refinery’s pollution- even when the City wouldn’t listen.
“This has been a genocide,” says Rodney Everrett, South Philadelphia resident and Philly Thrive member “They’ve been killing people and we’ve been paying for it. And with this news the only thing I can say is: victory comes with work. We got what we wanted. If we organize and we struggle for it, it will be done.”
The June 21st explosion at the refinery was the event that broke through the City’s refusal to take seriously residents’ concerns, and presented a platform to finally expose PES’s history of unregulated violations, environmental racism, and financial extraction from Philadelphia.
We want to be very clear that the June 21st explosion was a direct result of long-time corporate mismanagement, and we continue to applaud workers for ensuring the accident was not the catastrophe it could have been. Philly Thrive’s utmost concern is for the City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania to step up to hold the hedge funds and corporations behind PES accountable for paying into a fund for workers’ pensions and healthcare, for complete remediation of the site, and for the debt PES owes to the City and State.
Sylvia Bennett, South Philadelphia resident and Philly Thrive member says: “Philadelphians no longer breathing PES’s toxic air is a big first step towards Philly Thrive’s four-year fight for the Right to Breathe. But it’s not the end- we have to stay focused and make sure it actually happens. We know fossil fuel companies other places have walked away from what they owe and we won’t stand for that here.”
We demand the 1,300 acres of land be restored to the public, for City Council to fund studies into development of community-owned renewable energy on the land, and for City government to commit to a moratorium on new fossil fuel development- starting with the Mayor vetoing the LNG plant which is planned to be built across from PES.
We demand that PES’s owners, Credit Suisse Asset Management and Bardin Hill, provide funding for a thorough clean-up of the site, while fully funding pensions for PES workers and retirees and providing severance pay and retraining assistance.
In addition, we call on the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to hold accountable the past owners of the refinery: Sunoco and the Carlyle Group.
Sunoco has legal responsibility to clean up land and water polluted by the refinery, but it has created inadequate remediation plans without the public input that is required by law. The Carlyle Group, a $200 billion private equity company, took more than $500 million out of PES when it owned the company earlier in this decade. The City and State governments must press for the Carlyle Group to pay back this money in bankruptcy court so that it can be used for the benefit of the community, PES workers, and the environment.
With continued vigilant organizing, we see the potential for the transition of PES, the largest oil refinery on the east coast, to be part of the journey towards winning a federal Green New Deal- transitioning fossil fuel infrastructure across the country and investing massively in clean energy job creation to address inequality & poverty head on.