Delaware's Governor Thanks Responders to Refinery Fire

Gov. Jack Markell toured Sunoco's Marcus Hook refinery on May 28 and stressed the importance of keeping the plant shut down until the cause of the May 17 explosion and fire is known.

Numerous emergency departments whose units responded to an explosion and fire May 17 at the Marcus Hook refinery operated by Sunoco worked well together, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said May 28 when he toured the refinery and thanked responders for their efforts. Markell also met with Vince Kelley, senior vice-president of Sunoco Refining, to discuss the impacts of the incident; the governor said the plant should remain shut down until the cause is determined and it is certain the facility complies with environmental standards.

The fire apparently began in an ethylene plant that has been enrolled in the Accidental Release Prevention Program of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control since the program began in 1989. DNREC regulates the refinery flare, and Delaware was the first state to regulate flammables and explosives in addition to toxics. "Delaware's Accidental Release Prevention Program was one of the first of its kind established in the nation and became a model for EPA," said DNREC Secretary Collin P. O'Mara. "One of the attributes of the program is that it makes important information about facilities available to emergency planners and first responders. Our team will review Sunoco's findings and determine what, if any, operational improvements should be made at the facility."

The fire was in the jurisdiction of the Claymont Fire Company. Incident management was conducted by the Claymont fire chief, Sunoco's Fire Brigade chief, and the Marcus Hook-Trainer fire chief., according to the governor's office. The refinery is part of Sunoco's Northeast Refining unit.

Markell thanked members of the Claymont Volunteer Fire Company, the New Castle County Department of Public Safety, DNREC's environmental response team, the Division of Public Health, and other emergency personnel. "We know that when called to service, you answer each time. We honor you for that," he said. "But equally important are our collaborative efforts with Delaware facilities to continue to pursue all preventive measures to reduce emergency incidents and reassure our citizens that their safety is our number one concern."

Twelve Delaware organizations' personnel provided support during the incident, including the Brandywine Hundred Fire Company, Talleyville Fire Company, Holloway Terrace Fire Company, Delaware State Fire Police, Delaware State Fire Marshal's Office, and the Delaware State Police.

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