In The News


In The News

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Please alert President Biden to the HF hazard in his neighborhood!

As we noted in out presentations commemorating the explosion at Torrance Refinery, President Biden’s home office is approximately 11 miles away from the Trainer Refinery, which stores over 200,000 lbs. of HF on its premises. That is well within the refinery’s “Circle of Risk”. Here is a Map showing the distance,

So we ask everyone to write to the President to warn him and ask that he encourage the EPA to protect us all. You may download, modify and then print and mail or email it to President Biden at this web page:

Train Derailments, tanker truck shows hazards of Toxic Chemical Movement

Recent hazardous spills show the dangers of transporting materials such as HF. The toxic, fiery train derailment in Ohio has kept people from their homes since February 3. And, a highway accident near Tucson caused residents to evacuate a half-mile area. A 3-mile shelter-in-place order was imposed, lifted, then reinstated hours later. Since then, another train has derailed in Ohio (no hazardous materials luckily).

The chemicals involved in these instances were nowhere near as threatening as HF. In the East Palestine derailment the toxic cargo included hundreds of thousands of pounds of vinyl chloride, a common organic chemical used in the production of plastics that has been linked to several types of cancer

The EPA classifies vinyl chloride as a carcinogen; routine exposure could increase one’s risk of liver damage or liver cancer. Short-term exposure to high concentrations can cause drowsiness, loss of coordination, disorientation, nausea, headache or burning or tingling, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet numerous fish and animals have died in the area, and residents question the safety of their streams and wells

In Tucson a commercial tanker truck carrying nitric acid hit the highway median and rolled over on I-10 southeast of downtown Tucson on Tuesday afternoon, killing the driver and spilling the acid on the highway, according to KOLD News 13. Nitric acid is a colorless liquid, has yellow or red fumes and acrid odor, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exposure to it can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes.l

HF is shipped to the local refineries by tanker truck from Louisiana, so the hazards are equivalent, but the potential danger is much worse. HF can kill within a few minutes, unlike the others, so the danger is immediate! What could go wrong?

Congresswomen Waters and Barragan headline Refinery Explosion Commemoration

TRAA held a successful and well-attended event Friday at CSUDH to commemorate the 8th anniversary of the Torrance Refinery explosion. As well as the congresswomen, we had representatives from County Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office, Assemblyman Al Maratsuchi’s office, SEIU, CCA and numerous other community groups.

There was also an impressive technical presentation “HF Release Hazards” by our own Dr. George Harpole. We had over 80 people attending, either in person or via Zoom

Congrats to all who made this possible, especially event coordinator Zack Badaouie. To those who attended and to those who wanted to but couldn’t because of scheduling issues here is a link to the video recording of the event. Use passcode uQa+y4xi to access.

As part of the event, we asked participants to sign and add comments to a letter to President Biden asking for his urging the EPA to take action. Please print, sign and send it yourself.

TRAA Speakout Makes the news!

See this write-up from the Daily Breeze, overall a large and positive article that continued to make the community aware of this danger and the potential steps for change. But feel free to comment to them about any misrepresentations.

House Republicans Hold a Hearing to Reverse Environmental Protections Relating to Energy Production

The House Energy and Commerce held their first hearing on Unleashing American Energy on Tuesday. According to the website, their focus is “A key responsibility for Energy and Commerce is to help pave the way to unleashing American energy sources and technologies of all kinds—from hydropower, nuclear, fossil energy, hydrogen, to wind, solar, and batteries.” The list of actions is a wish-list from the petroleum industry, and threatens to undo much of the work the EPA is doing and has done.

Despite the short notice (the hearing was announced on Jan 31st and held on Feb.7th), TRAA and numerous other organizations submitted letters supporting the EPA. At the hearing on Tuesday, Congresswoman Barragán spoke about the dangers of using HF at refineries, as well as the need to use safer, available alternatives and implement stronger hazard assessments at refineries. A recording of the hearing can be viewed here . The Congresswoman’s remarks begin shortly after the 3 hour 5 minute mark.

After watching her remarks and questions, please call Congressmember Barragán’s office to thank her for speaking about the dangers of HF in refineries at the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Her district office: 310-831-1799

Read TRAA’s letter to the committee by clicking here.

SAVE THE DATE – February 17th

TRAA, in collaboration with Sierra Club, Coalition for Clean Air, and others, is holding a special event to commemorate the 8th anniversary of the Torrance Refinery explosion that nearly caused a catastrophe. It is scheduled to be at Cal State Dominguez (CSUDH), with doors starting at 11:00 AM. Click the flyer below to download a printable version.

How Safe Is the Torrance Refinery?

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) recently issued another notice about an unplanned flaring event at the Torrance Refinery, containing the following SCAQMD Link. According to the website:

A gas flare, also known as a flare stack, is a gas combustion device used in a variety of industrial plants. In petroleum refineries, flares are used as safety devices to prevent over pressure of equipment via planned and unplanned flaring.”

  • Planned Event: Used for scheduled maintenance, plant startup/shutdown, or other activities where the refinery can reasonably anticipate the need to dispose of excess combustible gas.
  • Unplanned Event: Used for emergencies caused by equipment failure, power outage, or other unanticipated event which requires the refinery to dispose of the gases in order to prevent harm to workers, the community, or to the environment.

The link also led to a list of all the flaring events at the Torrance Refinery, and showed that, so far this year, there have been 10 Planned and 23 Unplanned events. That means that there are about 2 emergencies per month at this refinery! And another planned event has just been announced.

With a safety record like this, how can we feel safe living so near, when they use massive quantities of the deadly hydrogen fluoride (HF)? There were 5 small HF releases between 2017 and 2019. The AQMD has not revealed how many HF releases have occur in the last 3 years. Why not?

TRAA Notes on Comments from the Attorneys General to the EPA

The following are the key highlights, as seen by TRAA, from a powerful 70-page document submitted by 21 Attorney Generals across the United States, including California AG Rob Bonta.  This document focuses on the 11 pages directly related to the use of HF in refineries. The special focus put on HF by the AGs comments is both a reflection of the chemical’s extreme risk to frontline communities, and of the decades-long effort to eliminate the use of HF in favor of a vastly safer alternative.

The bottom line of this Comment Letter is stated on page 43: “It is EPA’s responsibility to pave the way for the elimination of hydrofluoric acid alkylation.”

The Comment Letter submitted to EPA is extremely dense and heavily footnoted with powerful support for each of the points. While selecting most (but not all) of the key points, this summary is still 6 Pages! We added the numbering for clarity, but did not add wording or change the order of the arguments.

Read More to see the full TRAA Comments.

We urge readers to review the entire document with its extensive supporting arguments and footnotes. Link to full AG document.

Attorney General Bonta Calls for Stronger Federal Program to Protect Environmental Justice Communities from Chemical Accidents

From the California Attorney General’s Press Release on November 1st: “California Attorney General Rob Bonta, as part of a multistate coalition, announced the filing of a comment letter in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to strengthen chemical accident prevention regulations. . . .

“In the letter, the coalition expresses their support for the EPA’s proposal to strengthen the federal chemical accident prevention program, particularly the provisions addressing refineries that use hydrofluoric acid, commonly referred to as ‘HF,’ in their alkylation processes. HF is a uniquely hazardous chemical that when released can form a toxic, ground-hugging cloud that can travel far outside refinery boundaries that irritates the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract, and at high exposure levels can cause cell damage and even death. Two refineries in California use HF in their alkylation processes: the former ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, now owned by the Torrance Refining Company, and the former Ultramar refinery in Wilmington, now owned by Valero Energy Corporation. Both HF-using refineries are adjacent to disadvantaged communities. . . .”

Read more on the Attorney General website, and read the letter here.