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Paulsboro Refinery Belches Black Smoke over West Deptford

Despite issuing a temporary shelter-in-place order, county emergency management officials said air quality readings were normal.

Photos from Patch reader Matthew Mahon captured the smoke visible in the air over West Deptford on Tuesday. Credit: Matthew Mahon.
Photos from Patch reader Matthew Mahon captured the smoke visible in the air over West Deptford on Tuesday. Credit: Matthew Mahon.
An "operational issue" at the PBF refinery in Paulsboro sent a plume of black smoke into the air over West Deptford on Tuesday, causing emergency management officials to issue a temporary shelter-in-place order for area schools.

That order was lifted soon after, however, and air quality readings were all reportedly within normal limits during the incident.

The refinery "experienced a loss of steam resulting in the unplanned shutdown of certain units," according to a statement from PBF, which noted that the incident did not result in any injuries at the plant. 

A statement posted on the West Deptford municipal website was more blunt, claiming that the PBF "suffered a major power failure and lost three of the boilers at their facility."

"The township was informed that air quality readings were normal during the times of testing and our residents were not put at risk by this incident," according to the statement.

Neither township officials nor representatives from the Gloucester County Office of Emergency Management could confirm what, if any, chemicals were released during the incident.

Calls to PBF were not returned.

Paulsboro residents still haven't recovered from the impact of the 2012 train derailment and chemical spill in that community, which reportedly injured a number of first responders.

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