A loss of steam at the Paulsboro Refinery led to a shutdown and the sight of black smoke which alarmed residents who live nearby.
Black smoke rose from the PBF refinery Monday morning on the 800 block of Clonmell Road. Residents reported the smoke and several nearby schools, including Nehaunsey Middle School in Greenwich Township, went into a lockdown around 3 p.m. as a precaution.
The office of Emergency Management later lifted the lockdown for Nehaunsey around 3:40 p.m.
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NBC10 contacted Mike Karlovich, the spokesman for PBF Energy, the company which owns the refinery.
“We had a loss of steam this morning at the Paulsboro refinery which resulted in the controlled orderly shutdown of the refinery,” Karlovich said.
Due to the loss of steam, Karlovich says the refinery’s safety system went into effect and flaring occurred as a flame at the top of the tower began to burn, leading to the black smoke.
“The flaring is part of the inherent safety system in the refinery,” Karlovich said. “They help to relieve pressure.”
No one was injured during the incident and all personnel are safe and accounted for, according to Karlovich.
The refinery, which produces 180,000 barrels of oil a day, is still shut down. At this point, Karlovich says it's uncertain if the shutdown will impact gas prices. Officials are still investigating the cause of the loss of steam though Karlovich refuted reports that it was caused by a power surge.
“We’re still assessing what the loss of steam could be from,” Karlovich said. “We notified the proper government agencies and we’re assessing the impact.”
The South Jersey Times reports that the Department of Environmental Protection sent air monitors to Paulsboro to test the air quality.
Stay with NBC10.com for more information on this developing story.