WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — It’s a new era in South Philadelphia as big plans were announced Thursday for the shuttered Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery. It was once the largest oil refinery on the East Coast and the city’s largest air polluter.
But on Thursday, a judge approved the sale of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refinery in South Philly.
The attorney representing the buyer of the property believes the sale means jobs will be created, but Thursday’s decision is also a win for people who live and work in South Philly who believe the refinery caused air pollution.
An explosion rocked Philadelphia Energy Solutions back in June, releasing more than 5,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid into the air. PES filed for bankruptcy a month later, last July.
In Wilmington on Thursday, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale to a company called Hillco.
“This has been a long time coming,” South Philly resident Jeanette Miller said.
Miller says for years, she thought the air in South Philly was being polluted by the refinery.
“We just love the fact we get a chance to breathe again,” Miller said.
The Chicago-based company that bought the site, Hillco, plans to develop the 1,300-acre property into an industrial complex.
Environmentalists — like Philly Thrive — call it a win.
“Other sites they’ve built on, they’ve built warehousing units, they’ve built renewable energy so we want to be at the table with them,” Philly Thrive’s Alexa Ross said.
On top of Thursday’s sale, a judge also approved $5 million in severance for former workers who were laid off last year after an explosion at the site.
“Their union protected them very, very hard on this committee, throughout all the union deliberations and it was always front and center to us,” attorney Robert Stark said.
But many of those workers are still laid off. The union says that money doesn’t give them their old jobs back.