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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Congresswoman Waters’ Statement on the Torrance Refinery Fire and Explosion

February 19, 2017
Press Release

LOS ANGELES, CA – Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee and Torrance representative, released the following statement today, in response to yesterday’s fire and explosion at the Torrance refinery, which is owned by PBF Energy:

“I am relieved that yesterday’s fire and explosion at the Torrance refinery was effectively contained, and I am grateful that there were no reported casualties.  I commend all of the fire fighters and first responders who were involved in responding to this emergency.

However, I am sick and tired of the recurring safety incidents at the Torrance refinery.  Yesterday’s explosion ironically occurred on the two-year anniversary of the 2015 explosion, which injured four workers, registered as a magnitude 1.7 earthquake, and covered much of the surrounding community with ash.  The next incident could be fatal!

A Chemical Safety Board investigation into the 2015 explosion concluded that it could have been catastrophic.  That explosion launched an 80,000-pound piece of equipment into the air, close to a container of hydrofluoric acid, a highly toxic chemical used in the refining process.  If this volatile and dangerous chemical had been released, it could have injured or killed a large number of people in the surrounding community.  While we were fortunate that no hydrofluoric acid was released in that explosion, another such incident could occur at any time.  We cannot afford to keep taking chances.

If the Torrance refinery cannot stop these explosions, they should stop using hydrofluoric acid.  The safety of the community is paramount.”