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Officials Unveil New Plans To Refuel Business At Marcus Hook Refinery Site

By Jim Melwert

MARCUS HOOK, Pa. (CBS) -- Marcus Hook was hit hard when its refinery closed three years ago. But Delaware County council members are optimistic as they unveil phase-two of the study looking at redevelopment of the site.

Phase one of the study started in 2012 after Sunoco announced it was closing its refinery and eliminating 500 jobs at the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex.

"We wanted to be proactive after the Sunoco refinery was closing," says Delaware County Councilman John McBlain, "and we didn't want it to sit idle like so many steel mills did across Pennsylvania."

Three-plus years later, and McBlain says as many recommendations are in being implemented, they're looking at results of phase two, which calls for nearly $1.5 billion in capital improvements that the councilman says would bring thousands of construction jobs.

"And would employ hundreds of full-time men and women in good paying jobs that will sustain families after these plants are built," McBlain says.

The study looks at advantages and disadvantages of the site of the former Sunoco refinery. Advantages include on-site storage capabilities, access to Marcellus shale natural gases from the Mariner pipelines, and close proximity to other chemical, energy and industrial sites up and down the Delaware River.

Among the disadvantages are limited access to crude oil, and only via rail, managing truck traffic on an already congested I-95, and a skilled workforce in the area, according to McBlain.

"It does present a challenge," he admits, "but one that we can meet with our dedication to workforce training in Delaware County."

The revised recommendations include a propane dehydrogenation plant to turn Marcellus shale propane into propylene amid forecasts that demand for the chemical will go up nearly five-percent over the next five years.

McBlain says they'll shop this study around the world, hoping to find companies who can take advantage of the findings.

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