The powdery substance that fell from the sky onto Torrance after Wednesday's explosion in the ExxonMobil Refinery was from a chemical catalyst used in the plant, and "may cause irritation," according to a statement released by the oil company.
"The material is not expected to be hazardous to people or animals under the conditions it was released," stated ExxonMobil. "However, it may cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and throat."
Some witnesses as far as three miles from the refinery had described "ash" coming down and sticking to cars. "Fine light dust" is the phrase ExxonMobil used.
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"The material is a catalyst used in our process and is primarily composed of some metal oxides and amorphous silica," ExxonMobil stated. "We sent the material for testing and our preliminary results are consistent with the results from an independent test conducted at the request of the Torrance Fire Department."
The company announced it has established a "claims hotline," reachable at 844-631-2539.
The statement also gave an update on plant operations: "The non-impacted units of the refinery continue to operate. We are diligently working to ensure continued supply to our customers."