EPA’s Report: Lax Safety Practices at Torrance Oil Refinery

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A new probe into the Torrance refinery uncovers more serious safety issues.

Despite the new threat, the City Council is refusing to step in and take steps that neighbors say could protect the public.

U.S. EPA inspectors were at the Torrance refinery in November. Their report was made public Tuesday night and the findings show serious problems remain at the plant.

The report by the Environmental Protection Agency found that some required safety systems are not in place and equipment is broken that’s supposed to contain any accidental release of a highly volatile chemical called modified hydrofluoric acid which is used in the gasoline manufacturing process.

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An accidental release of the acid could kill thousands in the South Bay and beyond. It’s already been phased out at most other refineries.

A toxic release was narrowly avoided during an explosion Feb. 18, 2015, when the plant was owned by Exxon mobile.

PBF Energy took over the plant, but has refused residents’ calls for a phase out of the dangerous acid.

Despite the new EPA report, the Torrance City Council on Tuesday night voted against a resolution to phase out the chemical, but the council will support whatever decision regulatory agencies eventually make.

People who live near the plant say they can’t sell their homes because of safety concerns.

PBF Energy, the current owner, did not return calls, but the Torrance mayor says he’s been assured by plant officials that all the problems listed in the EPA report have now been fixed.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which monitors pollution, says if the refinery doesn’t phase out hydrofluoric acid on its own they will consider changing regulations to ban it.

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