Futures Beyond Refining? An eventful day February 3

January 31, 2020

The future of the Philadelphia oil refinery is at a critical juncture, and this urgent news post highlights two related events scheduled for this coming Monday, February 3.

One is hosted by us here at PPEH and the other by an advocacy group, Philly Thrive, whose work we admire and stand in solidarity with.

right to breathe sign on fenceline of refinery

In case you haven't been following the fate of the refinery in the aftermath of the June 2019 explosion and its ensuing declaration of bankruptcy by operator Philadelphia Energy Solutions (for the second time since it purchased the old and very leaky complex) and its subsequent award of substantial bonuses to executives while simultaneously firing 600 union workers, we've offered a few links for further reading below. First, the events' details:


Monday, Feb 3, 8 AM - 6 PM, at the Northern Refinery Gate

Philly Thrive is hosting a day-long "occupation" of the shuttered refinery gate. To learn more, click through to the event page on Facebook. 

Philly Thrive says this event is "the *FINAL* action to stand for our Right to Breathe ahead of the *FINAL* decision on the future of PES refinery."

Organizers are actively looking for speakers, musicians, babysitters, and other in-kind contributions. If you're inspired to contribute, the google sign-up form is available here. Together with a few PPEH students, faculty director Bethany Wiggin will be offering a workshop that helps participants write and draw cards from 2100 that describe the refinery land and water to elected officials today. You can read more about our #FuturesBeyondRefining programs and opportunities here, and check out cards from this project we made with neighbors in December.

Monday Feb 3, 5-6 PM at the Wolf Humanities Center

PPEH is hosting fired long-time refinery worker and filmmaker, Bilal Motley, for a special sneak-peek preview of his documentary, Midnight Oil, followed by a discussion and q & a with the director, Ms. Melissa Toby, a long-time Grays Ferry neighbor and Futures Beyond Refining tour guide, and Professor Rahul Mukherjee (Cinema and Media Studies), moderated by Dr. Wiggin. Click here for the event link and to RSVP.

midnight oil screening poster

Links for further reading/viewing on the refinery's most recent explosion and subsequent bankruptcy declaration, sale, and latest news of Trump administration's desire to keep it operational:

A Close Call and an Uncertain Future. A summary report (November 2019) by Brian Abernathy and Adam Thiel, drawing also on the work of the Mayor's Refinery Task force.

Preliminary Animation, by the Chemical Safety Board of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery Fire and Explosions.

Various articles reported late last week that the Trump administration wants to see the complex stay in the refinery business, although PRS has now accepted a bid from a Chicago developer, Hilco, with no plans for future refining on the site. The sale must be approved by the bankruptcy judge. Links to the latest wrinkle:





The refinery has been unprofitable for some time, as Christina Simeone, former Director of Policy at the Kelinman Center, wrote in this four-part series: