Justice at the PES Refinery Site Starts Now

Hilco Redevelopment Partners, Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia City Council, City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, ETC Sunoco Holdings LLC, Evergreen Resources Management, US E.P.A., PA D.E.P., Philadelphia Dept of Law

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Chris Baker Evans

On July 28, 2020, the David and Goliath story of how Philadelphia residents stood up to environmental racism and won made it to the New York Times.

For over a century, the oil refinery in South Philadelphia quietly poisoned generations of residents, terrorized neighborhoods with explosions, and extracted wealth from the city. This violence has been business as usual under a system that sacrifices Black lives and planetary health for corporate profit.

Starting in 2015, Philadelphians came together across race, class, and generation to demand a just transition of the refinery- then owned by Philadelphia Energy Solutions. When the refinery exploded on June 21st, 2019 and almost killed a million residents, Black organizers called for permanent closure. After years of grassroots organizing and dozens of protests, we won back the Right to Breathe.

The global real estate corporation taking over the refinery site is arriving in Philadelphia and the land will finally have a new life. As we prepare for a first meeting with representatives from Hilco Redevelopment Partners, join us in demanding Hilco, the City of Philadelphia, and other decision-makers reverse the legacy of racism and extraction at the site from day one.

Petition by
Philly Thrive
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

To: Hilco Redevelopment Partners, Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia City Council, City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, ETC Sunoco Holdings LLC, Evergreen Resources Management, US E.P.A., PA D.E.P., Philadelphia Dept of Law
From: [Your Name]

For over a century, the oil refinery in South Philadelphia quietly poisoned generations of residents, terrorized neighborhoods with explosions, and extracted wealth from the city.

I stand with Philadelphia residents in demanding that the future of the refinery land reverse the legacy of racism and extraction from day one and prioritize investment and benefits to surrounding neighborhoods. This means:

1. Committing to a revision of the public involvement plan for refinery clean up developed with Philly Thrive and other community groups. Pennsylvania law makes it clear that clean up of industrial sites must involve the public in all aspects, yet Hilco’s predecessors failed to do so for over 10 years. The City, as well as Evergreen, disrespected residents with a sham process and Hilco has the opportunity to restore public confidence that the remediation will be complete and protective of public health.

2. Committing to clear terms for involving residents in every step of the planning and decision-making about redevelopment and community benefits. This includes clear points of contact, transparency about communication between Hilco and the City, and reopening decisions already hashed out between Hilco and the City without public involvement. Residents are ready to be treated as central stakeholders in a relationship of respect and responsiveness.

I will be following the story of this redevelopment and hope to see transformational change. Thank you.