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TRAA Voter Advisory Panel’s Recommendation for the June 7 Election – Assembly District 65 Democratic Primary

Click Figure for a Full-Size Version
As of 5/11/2022.

The TRAA Voter Advisory Panel submitted the following three questions to the candidates Mike Gipson and Fatima Iqbal-Zubairc for the Assembly District 65 Democratic Primary on Tuesday, June 7, 2022:

  1. Do you support the phase out of hydrofluoric acid (HF), including modified hydrofluoric acid, at the two South Bay refineries that use it — Torrance Refining Company and Valero Refinery in Wilmington?
  2. A) If an incumbent: What did you do to further the cause of phasing out HF at either one or both South Bay refineries that use it?
    B) If a candidate: What will you do to further the cause of phasing out HF at either one or both of the South Bay refineries that use it?
  3. When elected, what do you commit to doing to help achieve the goal of phasing out HF at the two South Bay refineries that use it?

The Panel compiled the answers and graded the candidates on how closely they aligned with TRAA’s mission of bringing about the conversion of the two Southern California refineries that use massive amounts of highly dangerous hydrogen fluoride (HF) — Torrance Refining Company and Valero in Wilmington — to a modern, vastly safer process, as a growing number of HF refineries in the nation have successfully done or are currently doing. Candidates who didn’t respond were given an F. The results are displayed in the scorecard above.

California’s Assembly District 65 is of high importance because it could be catastrophically impacted by an HF release from both the Torrance Refining Company and Valero Refinery in Wilmington. Assembly District 65 includes Carson, Compton, Watts, Rancho Rancho Dominguez, Willowbrook, Wilmington, North Long Beach, North Harbor Gateway, Broadway Manchester.

“Meet the Candidates” for Torrance’s Upcoming Election at TRAA’s Monthly Zoom Meeting on Wednesday, May 11 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

The TRAA Voter Advisory Panel submitted a questionnaire to the candidates for Torrance Mayor, City Council, and Treasurer in the upcoming election on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 and scored them. The top-scoring candidates have been invited to speak at the start of TRAA’s May 11 meeting.

The following Torrance candidates have confirmed:

  • Cliff Numark – Torrance Mayor
  • Jimmy Gow – Torrance City Council, District 1
  • Jon Kaji – Torrance City Council, District 1
    (joining later if schedule permits)
  • David Zygielbaum – Torrance City Council, District 1
  • Asam Sheikh – Torrance City Council, District 3
    (joining later if schedule permits)
  • Jean Adelsman – Torrance City Council, District 5
  • Tim Goodrich – Torrance Treasurer

Click here to see the scorecard and other important election information.

To attend the virtual meeting, RSVP with an e-mail request for a Zoom link to TRAA President Steven Goldsmith at info@TRAA.website.

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn Receives Sierra Club Environmental Service Award

Janice Hahn has been a leader in the efforts to safeguard the community from a catastrophic release of HF from the two South Bay refineries that use it.

Sierra Club leaders presented LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn with the Sierra Club’s Environmental Service Award. Supervisor Hahn has been a Sierra Club-endorsed candidate since she served in the United States Congress from 2011-2016, and also while standing for election twice for Los Angeles County Supervisor. Hahn also served 10 years on the Los Angeles City Council before she was elected to Congress.

As a Los Angeles County Supervisor and as a SCAQMD Board Member, Janice Hahn has been a leader in numerous important environmental issues, including removal 0f massive amounts of highly dangerous hydrogen fluoride from two Southern California refineries: — Torrance Refining Company and Valero in Wilmington . In February, 2022, she spearheaded a motion, which passed unanimously, for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to send a five-signature letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta urging them to “take all possible actions to require refineries in California to convert from Modified Hydrofluoric Acid (MHF) to safer alternatives.”

The local Sierra Club, and its members as well, have been an active partner of TRAA in its effort to bring about refineries’ conversion from HF to a vastly safer safer alternative technology.

Read the Sierra Club’s press release on Supervisor Hahn Sierra receiving its Environmental Service Award by clicking here.

Gov. Christine Todd Whitman & 17 Others Urge EPA to Take Strong Steps to Strengthen RMP Rules – Including Requiring HF Refineries to Convert to Safer Alternatives

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has committed to updating its Risk Management Program (RMP) rules and expects to issue a proposed rule by September 2022.

In her April 21, 2022 letter, cosigned by 17 prominent experts, former EPA Administrator and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman writes to EPA Administrator Michael Regan:

“By enhancing the January 13, 2017, RMP rule, the EPA can simultaneously enhance national security and the protection of workers and communities now in harm’s way. An accident, natural disaster, or deliberate criminal attack could trigger a chemical release that could kill or injure thousands of people and cause billions of dollars of economic damage.”

Christine Todd Whitman
Former EPA administrator & New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman

Specifically, in regard to highly toxic hydrogen fluoride used in chemical refineries like the Torrance refinery and Valero Wilmington in Southern California’s South Bay region, she urges:

“Requiring facilities completing Safer Technology and Alternatives Analyses (STAAs) to implement safer alternatives wherever feasible, especially if they can eliminate catastrophic hazards, like refineries using hydrogen fluoride implementing the Honeywell process adopted by Chevron in its Salt Lake City refinery. This is the only foolproof way to prevent catastrophic releases by any cause.

Read the Full Letter >

TRAA Voter Advisory Panel’s Recommendations for the June 7 Torrance Election

Click Figure for a Full-Size Version
As of 4/26/2022. Note: Other Treasurer & City Clerk candidates were not scored as they never served on City Council and would not affect refinery policy.

The TRAA Voter Advisory Panel submitted the following three questions to the candidates for Torrance Mayor, City Council, and Treasurer in the upcoming election on Tuesday, June 7, 2022:

  1. Do you support the phase out of hydrofluoric acid (HF), including modified hydrofluoric acid, at the two South Bay refineries that use it — Torrance Refining Company and Valero Refinery in Wilmington?
  2. A) If an incumbent: What did you do to further the cause of phasing out HF at either one or both South Bay refineries that use it?
    B) If a candidate: What will you do to further the cause of phasing out HF at either one or both of the South Bay refineries that use it?
  3. When elected, what do you commit to doing to help achieve the goal of phasing out HF at the two South Bay refineries that use it?

The Panel compiled the answers and graded the candidates on how closely they aligned with TRAA’s mission of bringing about the conversion of the two Southern California refineries that use massive amounts of highly dangerous hydrogen fluoride (HF) — Torrance Refining Company and Valero in Wilmington — to a modern, vastly safer process, as a growing number of HF refineries in the nation have successfully done or are currently doing. Candidates who didn’t respond were given an F. The results are displayed in the scorecard above.

Important Voter Resources

Torrance City Council Districts Map
Find which district you live in.

Public Contact Information for the Top-Scoring Candidates
Volunteer to Work for Top-Scoring Candidates

Candidates’ Public Forums
Torrance Mayor & City Treasurer – Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Torrance City Council – Districts 1, 3 & 5 – Thursday, May 5, 2022

Torrance Election Information
Comprehensive Torrance Election Information with more resource links

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi to Headline TRAA’s Monthly Zoom Meeting on Wednesday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi is a strong advocate for the conversion of the two South Bay refineries that use massive amounts of highly toxic hydrogen fluoride (HF) to one of the modern, vastly safer, commercially available alternatives.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi‘s 66th Assembly District, with nearly a half-million population, is located in the South Bay of Los Angeles County. Bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean, it stretches from Manhattan Beach and Gardena in the north to the southern end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the south. It extends to the Harbor Freeway along much of its eastern border. The District is home to the Torrance Refining Company, and many of its residents are also in the EPA Worst Case Scenario circles of Wilmington’s Valero Refinery. Assemblymember Muratsuchi led an effort to make the Torrance Refinery and other oil refineries safer with his Assembly bills AB 1645, AB 1646, AB 1647, and AB 1649.

Assemblymember
Al Muratsuchi

To attend the virtual meeting, RSVP with an e-mail request for a Zoom link to TRAA President Steven Goldsmith at info@TRAA.website.

Executive Director Jennifer Hadayia of Air Alliance Houston to Headline TRAA’s Monthly Zoom Meeting on Wednesday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Air Alliance Houston is a non-profit advocacy organization working to reduce the public health impacts from air pollution and advance environmental justice.

Jennifer Hadayia brings to Air Alliance Houston over 20 years of experience in leading programs focused on some of the most pressing public health and social equity issues. In her most recent role as Senior Director of Public Health at Legacy Community Health Services, she led an interdisciplinary and diverse team to meet the public health needs of Houston’s under-served communities.

AAH Executive Director
Jennifer Hadayia

“At long last, attention is being paid to how environmental hazards disproportionately affect communities of color and working-class families. AAH has been at the forefront of the Environmental Justice movement. ​​I look forward to continuing this journey with you to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live or work, can breathe clean air. I am committed to working upstream to solve public health problems and to eliminating the conditions that cause health injustice in our communities, because all people – no matter where we live or who we are – have the right to good health.”

To attend the virtual meeting, RSVP with an e-mail request for a Zoom link to TRAA President Steven Goldsmith at info@TRAA.website.

TRAA Urges Support for Refinery Workers – Breaking News: Settlement Reached! Rally Cancelled

Refineries are hazardous industries, and refinery workers risk their lives providing quality gasoline and aviation fuel that the public currently depends on. The Torrance Refining Co. and Valero in Wilmington add greatly to the risk by their refusal to convert from HF to a modern, vastly safer process,  as a growing number of HF refineries in the nation have successfully done or are currently doing.

These brave workers deserve support from the community in their current labor negotiations for good pay and safer working conditions. Refinery workers have been in new contract negotiations, as their old contract expired at the beginning of February.

Breaking News: A National Tentative Agreement has been reached! The March and Rally at the Marathon Refinery in Carson, previously set for Saturday, February 26, 2022, has been cancelled.

Press Release: Torrance Refinery Action Alliance Update on the 7th Anniversary of the Torrance Refinery Explosion of February 18, 2015

On the Anniversary of the Torrance Refinery Explosion,
New Opportunities for Greater Public Safety Are Seen

For Immediate Release
February 17, 2022

Seven years ago, residents in the South Bay/Harbor area witnessed a near catastrophic accident when an explosion took place on the property of the Torrance refinery. Heavy debris from the explosion fell just short of releasing thousands of pounds of pressurized Modified Hydrofluoric Acid (MHF) – a release that would have put the lives of refinery workers and residents within six miles of the refinery in jeopardy.

In those seven years, one thing has remained the same: The Torrance Refinery still uses MHF in its refining processes. MHF is a highly toxic chemical that is used to make high-octane gasoline. It can form a dense ground-hugging cloud that poses mortal danger to anyone who comes in contact with it. An accidental release during refinery operations can be catastrophic and result in mass casualties. The Torrance Refinery and the Valero Refinery in Wilmington are the only two refineries in California that use MHF.

However, much has changed in those seven years — much that gives concerned residents cause for optimism.

When the February 2015 explosion occurred at the Torrance refinery, the only commercially available alternative to MHF in the refining of high-octane gasoline was sulfuric acid, the catalyst used by California’s other eight refineries. Sulfuric acid poses its own risks, but since it cannot form a vapor at ambient temperature, all credible experts agree it does not pose the kind of catastrophic risk posed by MHF. However, in the intervening seven years, other processes have been developed that have been deemed considerably safer than sulfuric acid — for example, Chevron’s ISOALKY ionic-liquid process, which now replaces hydrofluoric acid in Chevron’s Salt Lake City refinery. There are other such technologies in various stages of development, albeit not all of them have reached the stage of commercial implementation as has the Chevron process, which is being implemented in five other refineries worldwide.

In 2019, the South Coast AQMD halted its attempt at writing a rule to require the phase-out of MHF, but stipulated they would periodically review the new technologies to determine whether to mandate the phase-out of MHF in favor of one of the new technologies. Clear evidence supports such a review, and given the success of some of those safer alternative technologies, local residents are encouraged that such reopening of the rule-making process is imminent.

In these seven years, Congressmembers Ted Lieu, Nannette Barragán, Maxine Waters, and Alan Lowenthal; Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi; State Senator Ben Allen; and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia have supported transitioning to safer alkylation technologies. A number of local Cities, including Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Carson have supported transition, as have numerous local Neighborhood Councils, Homeowner Associations, and local environmental justice organizations.

On February 15, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved Supervisor Janice Hahn’s motion authorizing a “five-signature letter from the Board of Supervisors to Governor Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta calling on the State to take all possible actions to require refineries in California to convert from MHF to safer alternatives,” and “directing the County of Los Angeles to support any new State or Federal legislation that requires refineries to convert from MHF to safer alternatives; and authorize the County’s Sacramento and Washington D.C. advocates to take all appropriate legislative advocacy actions to advance this effort.”

Momentum continues to build for phasing out MHF in favor of a much safer, proven alternative that can allow the Torrance Refinery and the Valero Refinery in Wilmington to continue producing the gasoline and jet fuel the region’s residents need, as well as the jobs and economic benefits the region so benefits from. The elimination of MHF will provide safety from death — as well as day-to-day peace of mind — for hundreds of refinery workers, their families, and for thousands of others at risk in the community.

~~~~~~~~~~~

About The Torrance Refinery Action Alliance, Inc.

Now a 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit, TRAA was formed after an explosion on February 18, 2015, at the ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery (now PBF Energy’s Torrance Refining Company) rocked Torrance and rained pollutant dust downwind for miles.

TRAA ~ 4733 Torrance Blvd. #200 ~ Torrance, CA 90503
Email: info@TRAA.website
Website: www.TRAA.website
TRAA Science Advisory Panel Blog: www.TRAA.blog

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn’s Motion – Asking Governor Newsom & Attorney General Rob Bonta to Take Actions to Require HF Refineries to Convert to Safer Alternatives – Unanimously Passes!

Janice Hahn has been a leader in the efforts to safeguard the community from a catastrophic release of HF from the two South Bay refineries that use it. Many thanks to supporters of Supervisor Hahn’s motion who spoke at the virtual L.A. County Board Meeting on Tuesday, February 15, 2022.

Breaking News: At Tuesday’s February 15 Board Meeting, Supervisor Janice Hahn’s motion passes to “Direct the Chief Executive Officer, through the Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations Division, to write a five-signature letter to Governor Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta asking that the State take all possible actions to require refineries in California to convert from MHF to safer alternatives”

Supervisor Janice Hahn

Supervisor Hahn begins her motion:

As we approach the seventh anniversary of the Torrance refinery explosion, we are reminded of the life-threatening, catastrophic risk that Modified Hydrofluoric Acid (MHF) continues to pose to Los Angeles County residents. MHF is a highly toxic chemical that is used to make high-octane gasoline. Even a small accidental release of MHF from refinery operations could be catastrophic, resulting in severe health effects and mass casualties according to a South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) briefing. There are currently only two refineries in the state of California that continue to use hydrofluoric alkylation, and both are in Los Angeles County.

Supervisor Hahn’s action aligns with TRAA’s own initiative, kicked off two years ago on the 5th anniversary of the Torrance refinery explosion, urging Governor Newsom and then-Attorney General Xavier Becerra to take action.

Read the full text of Supervisor Hahn’s motion by clicking here.
Read the letter to Governor Newsom (also sent to AG Bonta) by clicking here.