Opinion: N.J. dodged a bullet in Philly refinery blast. Will we be so lucky next time?

DEBRA COYLE MCFADDEN / SOUTH JERSEY TIMES – In South Jersey, this year we have a big reason to be grateful.

In June, according to a recent report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), a million residents of South Jersey and Pennsylvania narrowly escaped exposure to hydrofluoric acid, a highly toxic gas, after a preventable series of explosions at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery.

Hydrofluoric acid (HF) can burn and penetrate your skin, and cost you a lung or a limb – or even your life.

The Philadelphia refinery suffered severe fire damage in the June 21 incident and has been shut down. Its future is unknown. But the PBF Energy Paulsboro Refinery in New Jersey is still operating and still uses HF as a chemical catalyst …

Debra Coyle McFadden is executive director of the nonprofit New Jersey Work Environment Council.

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