California

Residents React to Delayed Torrance ExxonMobil Refinery Restart

ExxonMobil delayed the reopening until Monday night

Some residents were concerned while others were suspicious as ExxonMobil delayed Saturday's reopening of a Torrance refinery, which was damaged by an explosion last year, until Monday night, citing 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, but will now take place between 7 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Esther Navis, a nearby resident, said she was happy about the delay.

"We were really concerned in the neighborhood with the last explosion that happened," she 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."

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.

Resident Jeff Ikemiya said the delay is "worrisome."

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

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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