As oil refineries reported their 3rd quarter profits, it became clear that there is no excuse for not converting their alkylation processes from HF to a much safer proven alternative.
PBF Energy, California’s third biggest oil refiner, made a whopping $2.26 billion off refining gasoline, tripling its profit in the third quarter. That indicates they could make us all much safer, and modernize their refinery, for about twelve days PROFIT.
And Valero’s third-quarter financial report showed that the San Antonio company made $2.82 billion from July to September. This caused Governor Newsom to renew his call for a price-gouging penalty “to put these profits back in the pockets of Californians.” per an LA Times Article.
Yet they continue to operate with “business as usual” despite general concerns about the environment and specific concerns about the safety of the surrounding community. And we wonder why gas prices are so high!
During the EPA’s public comment period for August 2022, three TRAA members participated by speaking on the rule. President Steve Goldsmith, Vice-President Jane Affonso, and member Zach Badaouie each spoke to the clear shortfalls of the revised rule. Each used the time to highlight the well known dangers of HF to public health and national security, while also calling on other environmentalists to organize around the issue. Even if our efforts fall upon deaf ears, it was certainly well worth the allotted three minutes to speak on such a critical issue. In addition to the live comments, TRAA is going to submit a written comment along with a deluge of files and videos on the need for action on HF. We hope that they fall on the right eyes and ears..
TRAA issued a Press Release on Sept. 29 about the EPA Hearings. It told that National Security experts led by Former Governor and EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman submitted their third letter, warning of terrorist attacks on refineries and chemical facilities using chemicals that can cause mass causalities and called for conversion to commercially proven safer alternative technology.
Joining scores of environmental and chemical disaster prevention organizations and over 100 speakers in the course of the three-day EPA Public Comment hearings ending Wednesday evening, the experts that included General Russel Honore of Katrina recovery fame stated ” as individuals with extensive experience in national security and environmental protection, we must tell you that the rule is not nearly strong enough to protect Americans from chemical disasters.”
TRAA member Laurie Armer has created a petition to require HF-using refineries to convert to a safer alternative. It is in conjunction with the EPA hearings to remove the most hazardous chemicals from the workplace. Follow this link:
The LA Times reported on a new study from Harvard University that unveiled a new interpretation of the previously known Palos Verdes Fault System. The study concluded that what was previously thought to be a network of small segmented faults is actually a system of interconnected fractures. When triggered, the result would potentially be a more widespread earthquake than previously thought, capable of unleashing energy comparable to that which would be released by a rupture on the famed San Andreas fault with magnitude up to 7.8.
Like the San Andreas Fault, which cuts through Northern California’s densely populated Bay Area, the Palos Verdes Fault passes underneath the densely populated regions of Long Beach, Torrance, and the Beach Cities, and within four miles of the Torrance Refinery and three miles of the Wilmington Valero Refinery.
Regardless of design mitigation steps taken by the refineries, the experience at Fukushima Nuclear Power station in 2011 demonstrated that natural disasters in excess of design limits can occur, and can have catastrophic results.
While scientists estimate the Palos Verdes Fault to be relatively inactive and slow moving, they also estimate damage and death from a rupture without considering the implications of potential release of HF. The high cost of such a release must be considered.
Janice Hahn placed the attached official motion on the agenda for the Tuesday September 13th Board of Supervisors meeting. The motion calls for a letter from the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors to the EPA calling for the strengthening of the proposed new rule. Specifically calling for the required conversion from HF to a safer alternative.
The motion passed unanimously – Thank You Janice Hahn!
Elimination of HF 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.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the leadership of Administrator Michael S. Regan, is in the critical phase of making a long-overdue update to the Risk Management Plan (RMP) rule for facilities that use extremely hazardous substances. The draft Rule, while having some good points, falls short in too many ways as we heard in Genna Reed’s presentation at our meeting on Wednesday, September 14th.
TRAA is asking community members to write to EPA Administrator Regan to urge him to adopt a stronger RMP rule that requires facilities using chemicals like HF, which pose catastrophic hazards to workers and the community, to convert to an inherently safer chemical when one is available. For refineries using HF, there are proven commercially available alternatives.
TRAA’s model letter to EPA Administrator Regan: here
Also, find a letter to Administrator Reagan from 31 Congressmembers and ten Senators here, and a letter from former EPA Administrator and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, cosigned by 17 prominent experts, here.
On Friday August 19 the Environmental Protection Agency released revisions to the RMP rule entitled, “Accidental Release Prevention Program Requirements under the Clean Air Act; Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention.” Among other things, the proposal does not require refineries to phase out HF, but leaves it up to them to determine the need.
What has happened? The EPA has issued a revised rule
The effort to bring about conversion from HF in refineries to one of several commercially proven alternatives took a bad turn with the recent release of the EPA revised rule to “Achieve safer communities through chemical accident prevention”.
While the rule has some advances like confirmation of the exceptional danger of HF and the availability of proven alternative safer technology, it regresses in its solutions.
Here’s what’s wrong with EPA proposed rule
It does not provide a pathway for replacement of dangerous chemicals like HF even though safer alternatives are practically available. “EPA contends that the practicability of these potentially safer alternatives are situation-specific…operators are usually in the best position to make these determinations” EPA uses the term “potentially” while even the American Petroleum In Association says there are “commercially proven alternatives”. This is a shocking statement that abandons the EPA’s General Duty to protect the community by leaving the decision to the owners. –
Facilities using chemicals that can cause mass casualties can merely state that it’s not practical to convert. California regulation already requires a safer technology alternative assessment for the last five years with little to no effect. Like California, the EPA rule does not require any third-party audit of the refinery’s assessment nor does it require conversion, if the inherently safer technology is practicable. –
It does not consider at all the national security threat of “Soft Targets”. Despite receiving many statements from nationally recognized leaders on the security concerns from HHCs, there is nothing to require greater security attention for such facilities. –
It does not consider at all the risk from transportation of chemicals capable of mass casualties. Despite stating EPA collaborates with Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security who are the primary oversight for transportation, there are no provisions for involvement of those departments in this rule to prevent such catastrophes. –
It does not even require informing the public about the presence of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (HHC) – Individuals in the six mile radius can request information, but no systematic information distribution is required to the residents of the surrounding communities.
For those of us who lived within the end point for death and serious injury in 40+ communities, we have tested the EPA proposals method to make communities safe from HF/MHF.
The EPA requested comments from the public and scheduled public hearings on Sept 26,27, 28 where the public can respond. Perhaps with enough pressure from many quarters, we can force changes in that rule.
Genna Reed, a leader in the Coalition for the Prevention of Chemical Disasters, will speak about the new EPA Proposed Chemical Safety Rule, its strengths and weaknesses, and how to respond.
Genna Reed is the director of policy analysis in the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In her role, she leads research on political and corporate influences on science-informed decision making—working to inform the public about issues where science is stifled or obscured, and to ensure that federal, state, and local policies are based on rigorous, independent science.
Before joining UCS, Ms. Reed was a researcher at the public interest non-governmental organization Food & Water Watch, where she studied the effects of genetically engineered foods and other technology on farmers, consumers, and the environment. Ms. Reed also served as a National Network for Environmental Management Studies fellow for the Environmental Protection Agency, where she conducted research on state and federal functional assessment tools to preserve the biological integrity of streams and wetlands.
Ms. Reed earned an M.A. in environmental policy design and a B.A. in biology and psychology from Lehigh University. She has been quoted in E&E News, The Hill, The Intercept, Newsweek, NPR, Politico, Science, and The Washington Post, among other outlets.
To attend the virtual meeting, RSVP with an e-mail request for a Zoom link to TRAA President Steven Goldsmith at info@TRAA.website.
San Pedro’s Random Lengths News is adding its voice to TRAA’s in asking readers to write to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and urge him to adopt a strong rule that requires facilities using chemicals like HF, which pose catastrophic hazards to workers and the community, to convert to an inherently safer chemical when one is available.
Do you live, work, or play in Wilmington, San Pedro, or Long Beach? You are in an Environmental Protection Agency risk circle for death or serious injury from a release of deadly hydrogen fluoride (HF). Wilmington Valero and Torrance PBF refineries use HF for alkylation to make primarily premium gasoline at the pump. Only these two refineries use HF in California. They are vulnerable to accidents, earthquakes, or terrorism. . . .
At the direction of President Joe Biden, the EPA is revising their toxic chemical rules in September. Now is the time for you to write the EPA a letter. . . .
Click to read the full article on Random Lengths News.