Fire, explosion reported at Torrance Refinery, police say

TORRANCE, Calif. (KABC) -- The Torrance Police Department issued an alert for the city, notifying them that the Torrance ExxonMobil Refinery had an explosion and fire early Saturday morning.

Authorities said the incident happened around 6 a.m. and 36 firefighters responded to the refinery. Fire crews knocked down the blaze within 30 minutes. It was unclear what caused the fire.

All safety systems at the refinery operated correctly and personnel were safe, police said. No injuries were reported, and the fire did not impact anything offsite.

The fire was reported to the South Coast Air Quality Management District and California Office of Emergency Services, police said.

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. The explosion also launched an 80,000-pound piece of equipment within feet of a structure that housed a highly volatile and toxic substance, modified hydrofluoric acid.

Meantime, the Torrance Refining Company hosted a safety rally for employees.

Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) issued the following statement on Saturday's fire:

"Exactly two years ago, an explosion at the Torrance Refinery nearly resulted in a catastrophic disaster that would have released deadly modified hydroflouric acid (MHF) into the surrounding South Bay communities. It was an Act of God that helped prevent an 80,000 pound piece of equipment from striking and rupturing a MHF tank, which could have resulted in over 100,000 deaths or injuries.

On the anniversary of that explosion, we get another explosion and a fire. It is completely unacceptable to have deadly MHF at failing refineries.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters and I requested the U.S. Chemical Safety Board to investigate the explosion two years ago. They have not yet completed their final investigation and I will be asking the Chemical Safety Board to include today's fire and explosion as part of their investigation.

I commend the South Coast AQMD for its recent proposal to phase out deadly MHF at refineries in Southern California. I urge SCAQMD to act with urgency. Refineries are not supposed to have explosions. We need to ban MHF as soon as possible. God may not warn us again."

Federal investigators in January said a failure to follow safety guidelines was partly to blame for the blast and that the aftermath could have been "catastrophic" had the equipment hit the unit housing MHF.

California workplace regulators fined ExxonMobil more than $500 million for the violations related to the explosion.

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.
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.