Power Restored After Morning Outages in South Bay

A flare at the Torrance Refinery, part of the plant's safety procedure during an outages, sent thick smoke over the South Bay

Power returned to tens of thousands of customers early Tuesday after morning outages that spread across the South Bay and led to a spectacular flare-up at a refinery.

About 102,000 customers were without power early Tuesday in Los Angeles County. That number included more than 38,000 customers in Redondo Beach and nearly 19,000 customers in Hawthorne.

The outages also affected the Torrance Refinery, which produced a large flare that sent a towering column of smoke over the area. The flare is part of safety procedure at the plant, located about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

Other communities without power included Gardena, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Torrance.

SoCal Edision said power was restored at about 8 a.m. Details about what caused the outages were not immediately available.

The city of Torrance issued an emergency alert, asking residents to stay indoors due to the refinery flaring, part of a burnoff safety procedure.

"When the power grid goes down, the refinery goes down," said Sgt. Paul Kranke, of the Torrance Police Department. "When it loses power, it flares. That burns out product in the line."

The refinery was shut down for about 20 minutes.

The shelter in place order was lifted later Tuesday morning, but authorities continued to monitor air quality. An unplanned flare event notification from the refinery is required by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The flaring is expected to continue for the "next few days," according to the city of Torrance.

"We have to figure out why this is occuring," said Mayor Patrick Furey. "This is the third time in the last several months, and it's very concerning to us."

All non-essential refinery employees were evacuated, and one worker was taken to a hospital for evaluation, fire Capt. Bob Millea said.

The Torrance Refinery, formerly the Exxon refinery, was purchased by PBF Energy in July 2016. The plant employs more than 600 people and covers about 750 acres.

The refinery can process about 155,000 barrels of crude oil per day and 1.8 billion gallons of gasoline per year. 

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