Torrance Residents Meet With Officials Over Refinery Safety Concerns; Officials Call for Ban of Chemical

The use of a hazardous chemical at the Torrance Refining Co. should be eliminated in the wake of repeated fires and explosions that have occurred at the facility in recent years, elected officials and community activists said at a news conference Saturday morning.

The news conference took place outside the Torrance Marriott shortly before the South Coast Air Quality Management District began an investigative hearing on the effects on air quality at the Torrance refinery in the wake of what they termed “repeated breakdowns and associated flaring.”

In February, firefighters were called to put out a blaze at the former Exxon Mobil facility, now owned by New Jersey-based PBF Energy Inc. The fire occurred on the two-year anniversary of a major explosion that halted most of the refinery’s operations for well over a year.

The ensuing investigation 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 chemical that, according to the agency, could have produced a toxic cloud that could have caused “serious injury or death to many community members.”

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