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Torrance Community Calls For Ban On Chemical At Local Refinery

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In a news conference Saturday morning, Torrance community residents and activists called for a ban on the use of a refinery chemical at Torrance Refining Co. because of the fires and explosions that have occurred in recent years, according to the LA Times. The presence of modified hydrofluoric acid at the refinery is a threat to the safety and health of Torrance citizens, according to the activists and city council members calling for the ban. This news conference comes a few days after an EPA report outlined the lack of risk management and the dangers of modified hydrofluoric acid (a chemical the refinery claims is safer than unmodified hydrofluoric acid). It also occurred before the South Coast Air Quality Management District began an investigative hearing on the air quality impact of the Torrance Refining Co.

According to the Daily Breeze, after the plant switched ownership from ExxonMobil to PBF Energy last year, the Torrance Fire Department has received 97 reports of incidents at the facility. These events reached a peak in February, when firefighters extinguished a massive blaze at the refinery. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board conducted an investigation after the incident, revealing that a a piece of equipment almost crashed into large vat of modified hydrofluoric acid, according to the LA Times. This would have created a highly toxic cloud, according to the Safety Board.

State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) used the conference to outline bills he has introduced to address the safety issues, most of which surround the use of modified hydrofluoric acid. Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Ahn is also a member of the coalition to phase out the use of the acid, saying "It is for these reasons that I believe that phasing out the use of modified hydrofluoric acid is not a matter of if, but when and how," according to the LA Times.

On Tuesday, Torrance City Council voted 5-2 against banning the use of the acid, but 7-0 in support of improved safety measures, according to CBS.