Site History

History of Remedial Investigation
at the Philadelphia Refining Complex

The former Sunoco Philadelphia Refinery (sold to Philadelphia Energy Solutions in 2012), now known as The Bellwether District, consists of more than 1300 acres located on both the eastern and western banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The complex has a long history of petroleum transportation, storage and processing. The oldest portion of the complex started petroleum-related activities in the 1860s when Atlantic Petroleum Company (Atlantic) established an oil distribution center. In the 1900s, crude oil processing began and full-scale gasoline production started during World War II.  Refining operations at the facility ceased in 2019 when Philadelphia Energy Solutions went bankrupt.  The property was then purchased in 2020 by Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP).  Adjacent to the former refinery is the Belmont Terminal (former petroleum trucking terminal) that is now owned by Energy Transfer.

Although investigations have occurred at the complex at least back to the 1980s and before, additional environmental investigation activities occurred at the complex in the early 1990s as part of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action permits. Additional investigations at the Point Breeze Processing Area of the complex proceeded pursuant to a Consent Order and Agreement (CO&A) with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) since 1993. At the natural expiration of the 1993 CO&A in 2003, a new 2003 Consent Order and Agreement between Sunoco, Inc. (R&M), now known as Sunoco (R&M), LLC (Sunoco) and the PADEP replaced the 1993 agreement and expanded the scope to also include the Girard Point Processing Area, the West Yard, Belmont Terminal and the Schuylkill River Tank Farm in addition to the Point Breeze Processing Area. In an effort to streamline the investigative process, the complex was divided into Areas of Interest (AOIs) in the 2003 agreement. AOIs were defined based on geographic location and/or historic and current operations, among other factors.

In accordance with the 2003 CO&A and Phase I Plan (included in the CO&A), a Current Conditions Report and Comprehensive Remedial Plan (CCR) was prepared by Sunoco in June 2004. The CCR presented the Phase II remedial approach and schedule to characterize each of the 11 AOIs, and to conduct Phase I and II corrective action activities in accordance with the 2003 CO&A and the Phase I Plan. Sunoco performed site characterization activities at all 11 AOIs in accordance with the 2003 CO&A and submitted a corresponding Site Characterization Report (SCR) for each AOI in accordance with the Revised Phase II Corrective Action Activities schedule that was included in the CCR.

In October 2006, Sunoco submitted a Notice of Intent to Remediate (NIR) to the PADEP for the facility, formally entering the facility into the Act 2 program. This NIR was later updated and submitted to the PADEP in November 2014 in order to reflect the change in ownership to PES and update the remediator to Evergreen (a separate NIR was also submitted at this time for the Belmont Terminal as a separate Act 2 Site). The NIR was updated again in December 2016 to change the selected remediation standard for lead in soil to the Residential Statewide Health Standard for the North Yard Ball Field in AOI 8. After entering the Act 2 program, Sunoco prepared and submitted Site Characterization/Remedial Investigation Reports (SC/RIRs) and/or Remedial Investigation Reports (RIRs) to formally satisfy the requirements of Act 2. The Act 2 SC/RIRs and RIRs superseded the previously submitted SCRs. The most recent RIR report for each AOI summarizes characterization work included in the previous reports, as well as investigation work completed to supplement the previously reported activities.

The PADEP and USEPA signed an agreement entitled “One Cleanup Program Memorandum of Agreement (MOA or One-Cleanup Program)” in 2004, which clarifies how sites remediated under Pennsylvania’s Voluntary Cleanup Program (Act 2) may also satisfy RCRA corrective action requirements through characterization and attainment of remediation standards established under the Pennsylvania Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act (statutory name for Act 2). In November 2011, the facility was entered into the One Cleanup Program with the USEPA Region III and PADEP, though both agencies had substantial involvement in the progress of the environmental activity at the complex prior to that time. In November 2011, Sunoco submitted a revised Work Plan for Sitewide Approach under the One Cleanup Program (Work Plan for Sitewide Approach).

In 2012, the complex was transferred from Atlantic (as to Point Breeze)/Sunoco (as to Girard Point) to Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) at which time a Buyer-Seller Agreement between the PADEP, PES and Sunoco replaced the 2003 CO&A. The First Amendment to Consent Order and Agreement was signed in June 2020 to amend the Buyer-Seller Agreement after purchase of the site by Hilco Redevelopment Partners. In addition, a 2012 Settlement Agreement and Covenant Not to Sue was signed by Sunoco, PES and the USEPA. Since December 30, 2013, Philadelphia Refinery Operations, a series of Evergreen Resources Group, LLC, which is an affiliate of Sunoco, Inc., now known as ETC Sunoco Holdings LLC (Evergreen), has managed the legacy (contamination prior to 2012) investigation and remediation at the refinery.

The current site activities at the former refinery of Evergreen and Hilco Redevelopment Partners are summarized in the organization chart below; with Evergreen in green, Hilco in blue, and shared responsibilities in the center. Please note that this graphic only provides a summary of responsibilities and is not a complete list/representation of each entity’s duties.