HF is believed to have been a major contributor to the June 2019 refinery fires.

Mayor Jim Kenney recently announced that he is planning on proposing legislation to prohibit the future use of hydrogen fluoride (HF) at refineries.

A release reports that the legislation will be introduced on Thursday by Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson. The plan is to amend Philadelphia Fire Code to ban HF in refinery alkylation units and other petroleum or hydrocarbon processing applications, according to a release.

This would require any refinery or petroleum processing operations to use alternative tech that will pose less of a health risk to the public.

Mayor Kenney said that, “Further regulating HF was a key recommendation to emerge through the Refinery Advisory Group process, and I applaud Councilmember Johnson’s leadership on this important matter of public health and safety.”

“With the passage of this legislation, large quantities of HF will never return to the Philadelphia refinery site again. I urge other communities, as well as the federal government, to follow Philadelphia’s lead and phase out the use of HF in the refining industry entirely – for the safety of the workers as well as nearby communities.”

HF is a chemical compound that is used in industry applications. It acts as a catalyst during the alkylation process at oil refineries, according to a release. It was used at the Girard Point complex, which was formerly operated by Philadelphia Energy Solutions. It was reported that HF was in large quantities in areas of the PES refinery that was heavily damaged by the explosions and fire that occurred on June 21, 2019. Another refinery nearby, called Point Breeze, was undamaged by the explosions and fire and did not use HF.

“The explosions that rocked the refinery complex on June 21 drew renewed attention to the unacceptable danger HF poses to our communities – especially when it is used in large quantities in close proximity to explosive materials,” Councilmember Johnson said in a release. The refinery complex is located in Johnson’s district.

“With this legislation, we will ensure that this specific risk is minimized in the future. Regardless of the outcome of the bankruptcy proceeding, we must do all we can to keep large quantities of HF out of our communities – now, and in the future,” Johnson added.

A release states that HF is toxic, and when it’s released, it can form a vapor cloud and can travel far distances. The chemical is extremely dangerous and affects human health in concentrations as low as 30 parts per million. Deaths can occur from skin exposure to as small as only 2.5 percent of a body’s surface.

*Original article online at https://www.metro.us/news/local-news/philadelphia/mayor-kenney-proposes-legislation-ban-use-hydrogen-fluoride