California

ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery Expected to Resume Operations Monday

The ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance was expected to resume operations Monday after an explosion last year caused extensive damage to the facility.

The refinery's weekend restart was postponed after company executives cited unexpected operational delays.

ExxonMobil handed out fliers to 11,000 nearby residences and businesses notifying them of the restart, which was supposed to occur between 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday. The facility will now resume full operations between 7 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. Tuesday, the company said.

ExxonMobil will shut down a pollution control device for six hours during the 12-hour restart period, which will result in up to 600 pounds of excess particulate emissions into the air.

South Coast Air Quality Management District officials said they do not expect it will expose residents to unhealthy levels but will keep a close watch on the operation.

"We are taking a number of steps to protect nearby residents when the refinery starts up and resumes operations," said Wayne Nastri, acting executive officer of the AQMD. "One of those measures includes deploying an air monitoring network to measure fine particulate levels in the air around the refinery during the startup process."

While some residents were concerned about the delay, others were suspicious.

Resident Jeff Ikemiya said the delay is "worrisome."

"Obviously there are situations that they know, but they're not telling us," he said.

ExxonMobil officials said its restart procedures were "thoroughly evaluated" by the AQMD and are consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Refinery Sector Rule and other relevant regulations.

"Full operations at the Torrance refinery will help to maintain a dependable, local inventory of California-grade gasoline, a specialized blend that meets the state's stringent clean-air regulations," according to the company.

A massive explosion occurred at the Torrance refinery on Feb. 18, 2015 when residents for miles around had to grapple with ash, a gas odor and concerns over poor air quality, as well as a surge in gas prices.

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