Delaware environmentalists lose refinery challenge

 (Shana O'Malley/for NewsWorks)

(Shana O'Malley/for NewsWorks)

The latest case against the Delaware City Refinery has been dismissed.  The train yard built to carry more crude oil to the refinery can stay open.

The Delaware Costal Zone Industrial Board voted unanimously to dismiss an appeal of a permit issued to the refinery earlier this year.

The Delaware Sierra Club and the Audubon Society challenged DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara’s decision to allow the refinery to operate its crude oil transfer hub by claiming it violated the Costal Zone Act.

The permit allows PBF Energy to ship up to 45,000 barrels a day to another one of its refineries in Paulsboro, New Jersey.

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O’Mara says he researched the act extensively before issuing an air pollution control permit to the refinery.  “The act really only looks at three pieces, heavy industry, manufacturing, bulk product transfers and there’s a very clear definition under that and the rail line doesn’t fit it,” said O’Mara. “There’s 48 years of precedent that indicates that rail is not governed by the costal zone act.” 

The industrial board ruled that the environmentalist groups had no standing to challenge the permit.  Sierra Club Attorney Kenneth Kristl says the fight isn’t over just yet. “We’ll consider our options including an appeal of the boards decision to the superior court,” he said. 

The refinery has spent the past year increasing its rail operation in order to process more crudes from the U.S. and Canada.  Environmentalists and residents near the refinery have raised numerous issues with the factory since it re-opened two years ago.

Last month, a four-hour hearing was held regarding the plant’s Title V permit while more than 1,000 factory workers rallied in support of their jobs. 

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