In The News

TRAA’s Monthly Zoom Meeting on Wednesday, February 9 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

TRAA’s February Zoom meeting will focus on activities for the 7th anniversary of the February 18, 2015 Torrance refinery explosion that showered the community with a store of pollution, nearly released a toxic cloud of HF into the community, and spawned the founding of TRAA. TRAA’s newly updated Mission Statement, recently approved by the Board of Directors, will be announced.

Aftermath of the February 18, 2015 explosion at the Torrance refinery.

To attend the virtual meeting, RSVP with an e-mail request for a Zoom link to TRAA President Steven Goldsmith at info@TRAA.website. If you have a question, include it in your request for a Zoom link. You’ll be able to ask questions during the meeting as well.

Mayor Garcetti Appoints Councilmember Nithya Raman to SCAQMD Board

The news was cheered by community groups and environmental justice advocates as a major shift in the role the city would take on the board.

Reporter Elizabeth Chou writes in the Los Angeles Daily News, “Signaling a potential turnabout in the city’s role in regulating air quality, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday, February 1, appointed Councilwoman Nithya Raman to the governing board of the regional agency that sets key regulation affecting the Southern California region’s air quality and polluting industries.

“Raman would replace Councilman Joe Buscaino, who had served on the governing board of South Coast Air Quality Management District since 2013. . . .”

Councilmember Nithya Raman

Read Elizabeth Chou’s full article in the Los Angeles Daily News by clicking here.

Join the SCAQMD Director’s Zoom Meeting on Friday, February 4 at 9:00 a.m. , where you can praise the selection of Councilmember Nithya Raman and advocate for converting the Torrance and Valero, Wilmington, refineries from highly dangerous HF to one of the vastly safer alternatives by clicking here.

Congressman Ted Lieu to Headline TRAA’s Monthly Zoom Meeting on Wednesday, January 12 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Congressman Ted Lieu is a national leader and a strong advocate for transitioning 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.

Congressman Ted Lieu’s 33rd Congressional District stretches across much of western Los Angeles County. It is home to South Bay cities where constituents are at high risk from a major accidental release of HF from either the Torrance Refining Company or the Valero Refinery in Wilmington: Rancho Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, and part of the city of Torrance.

Congressman Ted Lieu

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

Big West Oil’s HF Refinery in Utah is the 3rd in the U.S. to Convert to a Vastly Safer Alkylation Catalyst

Earlier this year, Chevron started commercial operation at its Salt Lake City refinery using an ionic liquid catalyst. And, CVR Energy is converting its HF refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma to solid-acid-alkylation technology.

Big West Oil refinery in North Salt Lake City, Utah

Article by Robert Brelsford in Oil & Gas Journal

Big West Oil has contracted Honeywell UOP to deliver technology for the conversion of the existing hydrofluoric acid (HF) alkylation unit at its 33,000-barrel-per-day refinery in North Salt Lake City, Utah, into an alkylation unit based on ionic liquids alkylation technology. . . .

Click to read Robert Brelsford’s full article in Oil & Gas Journal.

TRAA Supporting the Senate Confirmation of Dr. Carlton Waterhouse to Lead EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management

Based on the recommendation of the TRAA Voter Advisory Panel, the Torrance Refinery Action Alliance strongly backs Dr. Carlton Waterhouse as EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM). TRAA has signed onto a letter by Earthjustice urging U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer to bring his nomination to a vote in the Senate before the end of the 2021 congressional session.

Dr. Carlton Waterhouse
Dr. Carlton Waterhouse

Dr. Carlton Waterhouse is exceedingly qualified to lead EPA’s OLEM, which is charged with implementing environmental laws to protect health and the environment from industrial chemical disasters and releases of hazardous materials from tens of thousands of facilities in communities across the country. Dr. Waterhouse brings almost three decades of experience as an international expert of environmental law and environmental justice, and holds a Ph.D. in social ethics. His academic experience includes degrees in science, theology, and law. In addition, he has deep roots within the EPA, beginning his career at EPA’s Office of Regional Counsel in Atlanta and moving on to the Office of General Counsel in Washington, D.C., where he acted as chief counsel for several notable cases and served as an expert on environmental justice. Dr. Waterhouse earned three of EPA’s prestigious national awards and has demonstrated a deep commitment to protect public health, the environment, and environmental justice communities. 

URGENT: Encourage Your Own Environmental Organization to Join TRAA and Sign Onto the Earthjustice Letter by c.o.b. Friday, December 10, 2021

Read the letter, which your organization can sign and send to Senator Schumer as a Google Document, by clicking here.

TRAA’s December Zoom Meeting Will Be on Wednesday, December 15 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Check back closer to the meeting date for the latest information.

December’s TRAA meeting is being delayed one week because the nominal 2nd‑Wednesday date comes only one week into the month. Thus the December meeting will be on the 3rd Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

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

Video Update: Tanker Truck Loaded with 30 Tons of HF Overturns in China – One Person Dies

Unknown amount of HF released. Photos and a new video show the accident happened on a rural stretch of highway. In an urban setting, fatalities could have been catastrophic. Hundreds of trucks like these, loaded with HF, travel the U.S. highways every week, imperiling the communities they travel through.

HF truck overturned about 5 kilometers from the Lanhai Expressway Dasi toll station in the direction of Qinzhou, China. Click the image and watch a 4-minute video of the horrendous aftermath of the accident and the clean-up effort .

On June 21, 2021, the Qinzhou Fire and Rescue Detachment Command Center received an alarm: A large truck carrying vegetables collided with a tank truck loaded with 31.2 tons of hydrofluoric acid about 5 kilometers from the Lanhai Expressway Dasi toll station in the direction of Qinzhou. Nineteen fire trucks from Qinzhou and its Port District Chemical Rescue Team were dispatched to the scene. They quickly carried out rescue work and plugged the leak. The amount of HF released was not stated in the news article; however, a rupture that released a major portion in an urban setting would be disastrous. Local governments and public security departments urgently evacuated village residents within 2 kilometers of the accident. Expressway and local traffic police departments evacuated and diverted vehicles stranded on the expressway.

Hhydrogen fluoride released from an overturned tanker truck.

After 12 hours of joint efforts by the fire, public security, traffic police, environmental protection, and other departments, the rescue work was successfully completed, and the danger was eliminated. The accident caused one minor injury and one death, although the cause was not stated.

Click to read news source.

The Peril of Trucking HF

Click Image to Watch Video

This video created by Honeywell, the world’s largest producer of hydrofluoric acid, shows the extreme measures needed for even a minor HF leak during truck transport. It underscores the peril of a major accident like the one in China.

Experts know that by far the best protection from an accidental release of a highly dangerous chemical is to replace it with a much safer alternative. A regulation requiring refineries to convert from HF alkylation to one of the vastly safer modern alternatives would eliminate the hazards posed by the daily highway transport of massive amounts of HF to refineries. A multitude 0f communities nationwide, both near and far from these refineries, would then be safe from a trucking accident delivering HF to refineries.

Dr. Joseph K. Lyou — President of the Coalition for Clean Air & Former Governing Board Member of SCAQMD — to Headline TRAA’s Monthly Zoom Meeting on Wednesday, November 10 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

An advocate for replacing HF alkylation at the Torrance and Valero Wilmington refineries with a modern, vastly safer process, Dr. Joeseph Lyou was a Governing Board Member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District during the critical period leading up to SCAQMD’s failure to ban HF. Dr. Lyou will open the meeting with his view of the current situation and the path forward. A Q&A discussion will follow.

joesephlyouDr. Joseph K. Lyou serves as President & CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air. In January 2020 he was appointed to serve on the California Transportation Commission by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Dr. Lyou also served as the governor’s appointee to the South Coast Air Quality Management District Governing Board from June 2007 to March 2019. Dr. Lyou received his Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz in 1990.

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’s Monthly Zoom Meeting on Wednesday, October 13 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Be involved with important national and local issues of HF refineries and their impact on community safety.

The October meeting will focus on the national level with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the latest status of nominations to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB).

There also will be an important report from the TRAA Voter Advisory Panel on upcoming elections affecting the South Bay.

And, meet TRAA’s new intern Nia Liggins! Nia Liggins has joined the TRAA team as an intern/staff and committed to at least working 10 hours a week for the next ten weeks. She is currently working on (among other things) getting contact information for the appropriate staff people for the 36 Congress members and 40 Senators who have HF in their jurisdictions. She is terrific and a big help. Nia came to us via David Colgan, Communications Director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

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

How One Washington County Took On the Fossil Fuel Industry—and Won

Sierra – the magazine of the Sierra Club – tells how Whatcom County, located in the northwest corner of the United States and home to two of Washington State’s five oil refineries, is the first in the U.S. to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Firefighters spray water at the Cherry Point Refinery fire in Whatcom County, Washington. | Photo by AP Photo/The Bellingham Herald/Philip A. Dwyer

In this inspiring David-and-Goliath article, Carl Weimer, a fierce advocate for pipeline safety and past Whatcom County Councilmember, concludes:

“We didn’t have any hope that the federal government was going to protect us. So, we had to try to do what we could locally. I think often local governments underestimate how much power they have. This was certainly an experiment in that. How far could we push it? How much could we use local zoning and planning issues to control industries that have a much broader impact? And we found we could do quite a bit.”

This Sierra Club article underscores the critical importance of electing informed members to City Councils in the South Bay, which is a goal of TRAA and the TRAA Voter Advisory Panel.

Read the full Sierra Club article by clicking here.