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DEP: Major Leak at Paulsboro Refinery Poses No Health Threat

A leak at an oil tank spilled millions of gallons of oil into a containment area Thursday.

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.

Carrie February 24, 2012 at 02:02 AM
I say it's a scam to use as another excuse to rob us blind...Not to mention the headache I have had all day because of it!
Joshua Berry February 24, 2012 at 04:46 AM
We could smell this as far away as Gloucester Township.
PD February 24, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Is that the we marching band?
PD February 24, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Make that WD.
Bryan Littel (Editor) February 24, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Yup, that's them at the Thanksgiving weekend game.
Doug Donovan February 24, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Thanks, West Deptford Patch. We're smelling it down in Maryland! Here's the article: http://patch.com/A-rfVL We couldn't figure out what the smell was and a reader in Havre de Grace Patch alerted us to your article. --Doug Donovan
Sean Welsh February 24, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Officials in Harford County, MD are blaming "a plant in New Jersey" for a strong odor of natural gas down here this morning. http://patch.com/A-rfVL Sean
Bryan Littel (Editor) February 24, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Amazing, Sean - we'll pass along any updates we get today.
Nikki BK February 24, 2012 at 03:32 PM
I too had headache yesteday and could not figure out what or where smell was coming from. Overall sick feeling.
bill wolfe February 24, 2012 at 04:14 PM
If you think there is no problem, just take a look and see if yo would want your kid here: http://www.wolfenotes.com/2012/02/another-major-oil-spill-at-paulsboro-refinery/
Joe Maryanski February 24, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I 've had a pounding headache since last night as well... and can smell that fowl odor in Voorhess as well.. the DEP may not be able to pin health issues on this spill... but maybe they aren't asking the right people.
Paulsboro February 24, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Seems to me like everyone is complaining about the oil spill.... Pretty funny that we (Paulsboro resident) had to endure more than any of you! WE all are sick and people can't go out side.( yesterday) Who cares about the little aroma that you guys smelt. Our kids were exposed, our houses still smell for the oil.(today) Majority of the people here have breathing problems! What about our health and our kids health? Were all going to die here and the oil company doesn't care!
Paul Antunes February 25, 2012 at 02:49 AM
The smell is horrible. How is this not a health risk?
Jersey Jer February 25, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Smelled in Glassboro tonight.
BZIMMY February 25, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Just left my house in Deptford and had to cover my face the smell was that bad. This is a catastrophic accident, They spilled 157,000 barrels not 1. at least this is what they are telling us. Lets make this perfectly clear, THIS IS A HEALTH RISK TO ALL OF US MAKE NO JOKE ABOUT IT. It is now in the air and water supply. The refinery really messed up, they need to upgrade their equiptment and clean up this mess fast. Stop passing the HUSH money around, this is really bad.
eric george February 25, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I live in Deptford. I went out to Lowe's last night at 8:00 and could hardly breath. I called the refinery Info help line that handles questions (856-224-6177) and I spoke with two security guards that just laughed at me. They honestly just laughed when I call with my concerns for my family's health.This is this how a million dollar company handles complaints.
Dean Montemore February 26, 2012 at 02:44 PM
This plant needs to be closed.I know most of the people that work there,and common sense is not that common here. If i spill a gallon of oil in my backyard i am hurting the enviroment. Dad was right MONEY TALKS AND B.S. WALKS.
Another voice February 26, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Kathleen, Sunoco doesn't owe back taxes. They've paid. The settlement means the TOWNSHIP will pay back taxes they've already collected and spent.
Talimom February 26, 2012 at 11:28 PM
I live in Paulsboro and the smell was so strong that i took my 4 year old to my mother's in Woodbury. You could smell it on the highway coming in and out of Paulsboro. I don't believe for one second that that smell was harmless
KHIANSE February 28, 2012 at 01:45 AM
THIS IS UNREAL! THIS IS HARMING ALOT OF PEOPLE, EVERYONE IS COMPLAINING ABOUT HEADACHES AND SORE THROATS AND PB REFINERY IS ISN'T DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS... I HAVE TO COVER MY MOUTHS AND KIDS MOUTHS, MY VEHICLE SMELLS AWFUL THE SMELL IS THROUGH THE VENTS AND EVEN WHEN IM AT WORK AND GET IN MY CAR, IT'S HORRIBLE THE SMELL. WE ALL NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!!!
George Fox February 29, 2012 at 11:40 PM
How stupid does the DEP & EPA think the people who live here really are? We work in the refineries, we are required to train for spill protection, Including RESPIRATORY PROTECTION!! These so-called "Protection Agencies" are in fact a liars society! They don't live here nor does their families. They try to calm the masses and plead ignorance about the ill effects. Do we believe them? Not on your Life or mine!!! We should Sue them all!!

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