Del. refinery neighbors testing their air

    A mothballed refinery south of Wilmington will start operation again this spring under new ownership. In the meantime, residents of the tiny town of Delaware City plan to use the opportunity to test air quality before and after production resumes.

    Seven-hundred families live in Delaware City, a town nestled between the Delaware River and the large refinery. Residents have always wondered how the refinery’s operations affect air quality, but never had the opportunity to get a baseline reading until now. Built in 1957, the refinery shut down in 2009. But a European company bought the facility in January. PBF Energy agreed to pay for air monitoring both before and after production begins.

    Sarah Bucic, who chairs the Delaware City Environmental Coalition, said the state has air monitors set up, but not near residents’ homes.

    “So we thought, you know, this would be cool to put these in people’s back yards, to see what people actually breathe when they’re sitting in their back yards, when they’re sitting on their back porch, their house,” she said.

    For two weeks, Bucic said, three kitchen-table-size air monitors will filter 40 gallons of air per minute, testing for particulates. After the refinery is up and running, the same tests will run a year from now. Bucic said she hopes the data will finally answer questions about air quality.

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