A leak at a container at the Paulsboro refinery led to a major oil spill, equalling nearly a day's worth of refining capacity, Thursday afternoon, but the spill was contained to the refinery and poses no major health risks, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
As of 6 p.m., around 157,000 barrels of oil—or 6.6 million gallons—had spilled into an emergency containment area, which is cut off by a large berm near the tank, according to the DEP. 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.