Torrance resident Isabel Douvan Schwartz stated she worries apbout a significant earthquake hitting her group, largely due to the affect it might have on the huge Torrance Refinery two miles from her house.

The most important concern is that the refinery continues to make use of the extremely poisonous chemical hydrofluoric acid to course of gas, a apply that Schwartz and different activists need to see stopped.

“If hydrofluoric acid or modified hydrofluoric acid is launched, then it varieties right into a ground-hugging poisonous cloud that travels with the wind,” Schwartz stated. “It might trigger demise and everlasting critical harm to these uncovered to it.”

Hortensia Galvez participates within the rally.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Occasions)

Schwartz was amongst dozens of demonstrators who held a rally at Columbia Park on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of an explosion on the then Exxon Mobil Refinery that injured 4 employees and wherein debris from the blast hit near tanks containing hydrofluoric acid, according to federal regulators.

The Torrance Refinery Motion Alliance organized the rally and argued that safer alternate options exist, and that lots of the refineries in California not use hydrofluoric acid.

PBF Power, which bought the refinery in 2016, issued an announcement Saturday rebutting the activists’ accusations.

“We’re conscious of the deceptive and inaccurate claims by the activist group, which they’ve been making for years,” the assertion stated. “The cleaner-burning gasoline offered in California requires alkylate to adjust to essentially the most stringent tailpipe emissions necessities on this planet. The Torrance Refinery has been safely and reliably manufacturing alkylate for transportation fuels utilizing hydrogen fluoride (HF), together with modified hydrogen fluoride (MHF), in its Alkylation Unit for greater than 60 years, with none offsite affect.”

On the refinery’s website, PBF Power argues that Californians live in a state with strict environmental laws, but nonetheless can drive wherever they need within the automobiles of their selection “with the reassurance their native refineries produce the world’s cleanest-burning gasoline utilizing course of referred to as alkylation.”

As regulators identified, the explosion in 2015 didn’t immediately contain hydrofluoric acid however that particles got here near hitting tanks with the chemical inside.

The California Division of Occupational Security and Well being, or Cal/OSHA, issued 19 citations in opposition to Exxon Mobil, most of which had been categorized as critical, for office security and well being violations. Exxon Mobil was fined $566,600.

Protesters hold signs

The Torrance Refinery Motion Alliance organized the rally and march to protest inaction by the business and regulators.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Occasions)

Cal/OSHA discovered the corporate neglected to eliminate known hazardous conditions and “deliberately did not adjust to state security requirements,” probably leading to employees being critically injured or killed, in keeping with the company’s Division of Industrial Relations.

Cal/OSHA additionally decided the corporate’s administration knew the electrostatic precipitator — which exploded in 2015 — might explode throughout a flammable vapor leakage. A security evaluation in 2007 addressed issues concerning the leakage, however the firm failed to repair it, state regulators stated.

Regulators on the U.S. Chemical Security and Hazard Investigation Board reviewed the explosion and located it was “preventable.”

“That is the ninth anniversary of what might need been a disaster,” stated Jane Affonso, vice chairman of the Torrance Refinery Motion Alliance, at Saturday’s rally. “There was an explosion on the Torrance Refinery, which is correct over there, and a giant piece of apparatus got here inside eight toes of the tank of hydrofluoric acid, and if it had hit it , many individuals would have died and been injured.”

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