By David Madden

ASTON, Pa. (CBS) — A local US congressman held a hearing in Delaware County today to examine the potential national security threat posed as oil refineries are shut down.

Two in our area have closed in recent months, and a third could close this summer (see related story).  As refining grows down south, it’s shrinking here, making our region more dependent on ships and existing pipelines, with many former refineries now serving as storage facilities for product.

The true risk from this change isn’t clear yet, although the petroleum industry has its concerns going forward.

“These assets are critical and need to be treated as such by the government,” says Charles Drevna (in photo), head of the American Fuel and Petroleum Manufacturers Association.

US Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), who chaired the hearing at Neumann University, expressed concerns that a disruption in supply — for whatever reason — could have a dramatic effect on the region.

And since terrorists have targeted pipelines for attacks in the Middle East and elsewhere, he thinks, they could also try it somewhere in this country.