Paige Austin, Patch Staff. Numerous nearby residents complained about the air quality following the blast. Two others sustained minor injuries. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Instead, if a leak occurred, a ground-hugging liquid cloud would form, according to a 2018 report from the Torrance refinery defending its use of the chemical. TORRANCE, Calif.- An explosion and fire ripped through a gasoline processing unit at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance, California, near Los Angeles on Wednesday, slightly injuring four workers and shattering windows of surrounding buildings, authorities said.Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the blast, which occurred shortly before 9 a.m. PST (12 p.m. And so, the battle over MHFs future appears set to linger on with the Board of Supervisors call for a ban the latest volley. Having affordable fuel that is readily available is a vital part of the California economy.. "Emergency procedures have been activated to address the incident, and employees are working with the appropriate agencies," a statement by the ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery said. The battle over a highly toxic chemical used in oil refining recently received a fresh jolt, seven years after the substance became a regional cause celebre in the wake of an explosion that rocked the Torrance Refinery. The remainder of the FCC unit is comprised of a portion of the reaction process and a series of pollution control equipment that uses air and is known as the air side of the unit. The 2015 explosion, according to the CSB, caused the refinery to run at limited capacity for more than a year and raised gas prices in California costing drivers in the state an estimated $2.4. The explosion sent ash raining down on. You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times. I wish the Torrance City Council had the courage to say that.. Had the tank ruptured, it would have caused a release of MHF, which is highly toxic. Residents reported shaking normally associated with earthquakes throughout the South Bay area. We need to ban MHF as soon as possible. The 2015 explosion at the Torrance Refinery was bad, but it easily could have been catastrophic, Hahn said in a press release. That failure ultimately allowed hydrocarbons to flow into the air side of the FCC, where they ignited in a piece of equipment called the electrostatic precipitator, or ESP, causing an explosion of the ESP. The couple was taking a stroll outside of North High Schools football field on the day of the 2015 explosion. The respective responses were predictable: For years, both sides of this battle have zealously defended their positions. The Heises, for their part, are still working to educate residents in Torrance and Wilmington about their MHF concerns and are grateful the issue is still being monitored. The rule would have required a gradual phase-out of MHF usage at both refineries, requiring an alternative catalyst, such as sulfuric acid. He said the blast happened in a processing facility and the material involved was gasoline. "It was like a loud sonic boom. Electrostatic precipitators are large machines that stand12 stories high and weigh more than 1,000 tons. Minor injuries were reported after the explosion ripped apart structures at the oil refinery and shook homes for miles around the blast site in southern Los Angeles County. The blast caused serious property damage to the refinery and scattered catalyst dust up to a mile away from the facility into the nearby community. In the late 1980s, ExxonMobil and Phillips 66 jointly created modified hydrofluoric acid, which boasts a chemical additive that, when used in high enough concentrations, can prevent the poisonous chemical from dispersing. A five-story processing unit had burst open, spewing industrial ash over a mile away that some mistook for snow and propelling a 40-ton hunk of equipment into the air. Just before 9 that morning, pent-up gases at ExxonMobil's Torrance refinery south of Los Angeles had triggered an explosion so massive it registered as a magnitude-1.7 tremor. The state could potentially lose thousands of jobs, and it could result in higher gasoline prices at the pump for California residents, businesses, and government, Californians for a Sustainable Economy an association representing hundreds of local businesses wrote in opposition to the ban. The explosion sent ash raining down on vehicles parked near the sprawling 750-acre site and caused what one worker described as intense shaking. California Occupational Safety and Health officials were at the site investigating. We cant assume we will be so lucky next time, whether that is another refinery accident, an earthquake, or God-forbid, an attack., The passage of the Supervisors motion is disappointing, she said in an email, because many of the points they make are both misleading and the projects are already in place, following agreements with several government agencies to install additional safety measures.. Before joining the newsroom in 2016, she was a general assignment reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and After protests and intensified public pressure from such activists as the Heises mounted in 2017, the AQMDs Proposed Rule 1410 became a key focus of the agencys Governing Board. Please enter valid email address to continue. Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the blast, which occurred shortly before 9 a.m. PST . That, the report said, would prevent the chemical from dispersing as widely as it would as an aerosol. Torrance firefighters . Those calls for a ban remain. Liz Odendahl, Hahns spokeswoman, said in an interview that the supervisor was furious at the AQMDs decision to accept the refineries proffers. The work of the Safety Auditor was overseen by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge and approved prior to use of MHF at the refinery.. The large turnout surprised even the diverse group of participants unaccustomed to seeing such political activism in a conservative community. Tammy Khan, of the Torrance Unified School District, said the shetler-in-place order was lifted early Wednesday afternoon. "I have second thoughts about being out here right now," said resident Anthony Scales. Inside the refinery, the explosion blew off parts of an electrostatic precipitator and damaged other equipment at the plant. The investigation of the Torrance explosion by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board revealed that a piece of equipment nearly crashed into a tank holding tens of thousands of pounds of modified hydrofluoric acid a highly toxic chemical used to make high-octane gasoline. Flares from the stack, part of a safety relief valve system, are part of normal operations that occasionally produce a rumbling sound, like distant thunder, caused by turbulent mixing of vapors. Finally, the slide valve - a safety-critical safeguard within the system - was degraded significantly. Residents touted the move, introduced by Supervisor Janice Hahn and timed to the anniversary, while PBF, in a statement, criticized the county boards vote. People gathered in protest at the refinery later in the afternoon on the 2-year anniversary of an explosion at the plant that left two people injured. All communications are private and confidential. The blast caused serious property damage to the refinery and scattered catalyst dust up to a mile away from the facility into the nearby community. The CSBs report emphasizes that it is critical that hydrocarbons do not flow into the air side of the FCC unit, as this can create an explosive atmosphere. explosion also launched an 80,000-pound piece of equipment, failure to follow safety guidelines was partly to blame for the blast. For a breakdown of the fees and expenses associated with the verdicts and settlements listed on our site, please visit our Results page. Feb . Manhattan Beach, CA crime, fire and public safety news and events, police & fire department updates All Rights Reserved. Ryan Zehl is the lawyer responsible for this website. If that was the case, we wouldnt have seen another explosion today, she added. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated. On Saturday, the Torrance Refinery Action Alliance announced a campaign urging Gov. More than a day after the accident, no representative from ExxonMobil had directly contacted the Torrance fire chief and city officials still did not know what was in the substances that were released into the surrounding areas. Environmentalists and concerned residents say MHF could prove catastrophic if the chemical were to escape, pointing to its corrosivity and studies that show its ability to travel beyond a refinerys footprint. Redondo Beach Local News. in journalism from the University of Southern California. Some said they heard one of the workers may have turned on the gas inside one of the apartments before it was completely ready. The crowd gathered at 10 a.m. at Columbia Park on 190th Street, cheering the remarks of Lieu, Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi and other speakers, before marching the short distance to the refinery. Thick smoke rose from a mangled, multiple-story portion of the Torrance ExxonMobil Refinery, located south of the 405 Freeway, after the 8:50 a.m. blast. The refinery has been under constant scrutiny since the explosion as small fires and flare ups have been reported since and raised concern among residents living nearby. 2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu said in a statement Saturday that he plans to ask the U.S. Chemical Safety Board to include Saturdays incident as part of an ongoing investigation into the problems at the trouble-plagued refinery that began two years ago. "I kind of figured we had an earthquake, then I realized, living by the factory for all those years, they had a problem with the factory.". Several residents noticed what they described as a larger-than-usual flame from the plant's towering flare stack. Had the tanks ruptured, the report said, it would have caused a massive release of MHF, which can be deadly to anyone who comes in contact with it. That 2015 blast registered as a small earthquake that shook nearby houses, injured four of the facilitys workers and covered the area in dust and ash. Its been a few years now, and there has been very little progress.. The improvements, though, also came after sustained pressure from the community and watchdog agencies. TORRANCE TODAY - FEBRUARY 16, 2023 - City of Torrance TorranceCitiCABLE 4.15K subscribers 113 views 1 day ago #184 1. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. California workplace regulators fined ExxonMobil more than $500 million for the violations related to the explosion. Community members who may have been impacted by the explosion can call the ExxonMobil claims hotline at 844-631-2539. Although there are alternative alkylation technologies under development, Lafayette said, they still need to be proven to be safe, mechanically reliable, and commercially viable at the scale of the Torrance Alkylation Unit.. May 3, 2017, Torrance, CA, -- Today, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final report into the February 18, 2015, explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California. More Stories Drone helps. The 2015 explosion, according to the CSB, caused the refinery to run at limited capacity for more than a year and raised gas prices in California costing drivers in the state an estimated $2.4. Every one of our lawyers is a Houston personal injury attorney whos undefeated in the courtroom and has recovered some of the largest verdicts and settlements in history. "Our main concern is for the safety of our employees and our neighbors.". Visit our website, Chairperson Sutherland said, There are valuable lessons to be learned and applied at this refinery, and to all refineries in the U.S. Keeping our refineries operating safely is critical to the well-being of the employees and surrounding communities, as well as to the economy.. By then, the husband said, theyd been living in the city long enough to know exactly what the sound was. The refineries are required to provide quarterly updates to the agency.. The CSB also found that in multiple instances leading up to the incident, the refinery directly violated ExxonMobils corporate safety standards. There have also been multiple safety enhancements to prevent leaks, they say. The Torrance Refinery Action Alliance plans on Tuesday to deliver a letter from its science advisory panel to Newsoms office urging him to request that Atty. (Credit: KTLA) The blast at the refinery, which is located in the 3700 block of West . Activists held an event Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of the explosion at the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance that injured four workers. All rights reserved. It provides 362 jobs around $30 million in wages in Torrance, according to its website. The refinery, where about 155,000 barrels of crude oil are processed each day, has been part of the South Bay landscape since the 1920s. Unfortunately, ExxonMobil, the owner-operator of the refinery at the time of the accident, did not respond to the CSBs requests for information detailing safeguards to prevent or mitigate a release of MHF, and therefore the agency was unable to fully explore this topic in its final report. Torrance Refinery on April 22 reported an unplanned flaring event, induced by damaged equipment, that sent an additional 765 pounds of SOx and 143 pounds of volatile organic compounds into the. Those improvements were completed in 2021 and are now in service, Lafayette said. Organizers estimated the crowd size at more than 400. The information you review on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.The verdicts and settlements that we have listed are simply intended to be representative of the cases that Zehl & Associates has handled for past clients; they are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome in your or any other lawsuit. Copyright 2023 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved. PBF also reached a separate agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to upgrade an additional water monitor in 2020, according to Lafayette. 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Several contractors were injured in the Feb. 18, 2015, blast that shut down the refinery for more than a year, leading to soaring gas prices in Southern California. Explosion Rocks ExxonMobil Refinery in Torrance, California. Explosion at Torrance refinery - Los Angeles Times SUBSCRIBE Copyright 2022, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | CA Notice of Collection | Do Not Sell My Personal. This is a breaking news story. April 8, 2018 / 2:50 PM CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems. The LA County Department of Public Health and former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra followed suit. Its unacceptable we were put in harms way, said Daphne Wong, who added that she does not believe the official line that Torrance is a safe community. Economic factors, such as job creation and the regional and global importance of oil, further complicate the issue, at least for elected officials.
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