Major Leak at NJ Refinery

Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 03:02 PM gHale

A leak at a container at the Paulsboro, NJ, refinery led to a major oil spill, equalling nearly a day’s worth of refining capacity.

The good news is workers were able to contain the spill to the refinery and it poses no major health risks, according to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

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As of 6 p.m. Thursday, 157,000 barrels of oil — or 6.6 million gallons — spilled into an emergency containment area, which a large berm cuts off near the tank, the DEP said. The containment was preventing the oil from spreading beyond the immediate area, and the DEP said the Delaware River and groundwater should be safe from contamination.

Initial air tests by the Gloucester County Department of Health and refinery personnel indicated no serious health risk from the odor from the leaking oil.

The smell, similar to natural gas or gasoline, spread out from the refinery, and was noticeable within a few miles of the plant less than an hour after the spill. In the evening, people in Deptford and other parts of Gloucester County said they could smell the leak.

The DEP said though there’s no major health risk posed by the smell, older adults and people with respiratory issues should consider staying inside to limit their exposure.

DEP spokesman Lawrence Hanja said the Paulsboro Refining Company and its parent company, PBF Energy, are responsible for the cleanup.

Emergency crews were spraying the spill with foam to knock down the smell, and refinery workers had begun pumping oil from both the spill and what remains in the 12-million gallon tank into other storage spots on site.

The 950-acre refinery, which processes about 180,000 barrels of medium and heavy oil per day, produces mostly gasoline, jet fuel and heating oil. It’s one of three refineries run by PBF, which also has operations in Delaware City, DE and Toledo, OH.