Aging, thin pipe likely cause of Philadelphia refinery fire

October 16, 2019 - 10:05 am

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Federal investigators say an aging, failed elbow pipe appears to be the cause of a June fire and subsequent explosions that left five people with minor injuries and destroyed part of the processing unit at the largest oil refinery on the East Coast.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board released a preliminary report Wednesday on findings from the June 21 explosion at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex.

The investigative update shows once the pipe failed, the flammable vapor cloud ignited and three explosions occurred within 20 minutes. The third explosion sent three large fragments weighing as much as 17 tons (15 metric tons) flying into the air.

The board will issue a final report including recommendations when the investigation is complete. The company previously announced it plans to close the refinery.

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