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It's Potentially Lethal, So Corrosive It Could Kill Or Injure Thousands For Miles Around If Released In A Refinery Explosion, Industrial Accident Or Earthquake; It's Used By Only Two Refineries In CA And One Is LB-Adjacent Valero Plant In Wilmington; SCAQMD Has Proposed A Rule To Phase-Out To Safer Product (Invites Conversion To Safer Chemical With Costs) OR "Mitigate" Risks And Continue Using Modified Hydrofluoric Acid (MHF); Torrance Residents Seek Phase-Out/Conversion; Refineries/Unions Support "Mitigation"; So Where's LB? SCAQMD Will Hold Committee Hearing On This In Wilmington On Sept. 22

LBREPORT.com reported in detail on this issue in April


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(Sept. 21, 2018, 10:50 a.m., with updated text added 2:40 p.m.) -- It's potentially lethal, a chemical so corrosive that if accidentally released through a refinery explosion, industrial accident or earthquake, depending on the amount released and prevailing winds could kill or injure thousands of people for miles around. It's "Modified Hydrofluoric Acid" (MHF) and used at only two refineries in all of CA. One of them is adjacent to Long Beach: the Valero refinery at 2402 E. Anaheim St. in Wilmington. Trucks bringing MHF to the two refineries also travel along LB-area freeways.

After a 2015 explosion caused a "near-miss" to an MHF holding tank at the separately owned Torrance facility (former Exxon, now Torrance Refinery Co.), the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) proposed adopting a formal rule -- Rule 1410 -- to require the two refineries to either phase out (and choose to convert to a safer substance with acknowledged costs) OR to adopt "mitigation measures" for the risks of continuing to use MHF.

Following the 2015 explosion and "near miss," Torrance residents formed a well-organized volunteer group -- the Torrance Refinery Action Alliance at this link -- which offers information and advocacy to support a ban on MHF. Representatives of the refineries (and a union representing Torrance refinery workers) have supported continued use of MHF with "mitigation" for the risk.

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Source: SCAQMD Power Point graphic from April 28 and Sept. 22 PPTs

Valero's most recent position visible on SCAQMD's website (Sept. 18 2017 letter) can be viewed at this link in which it argues that AQMD "has yet to establish a need for any action at all, much less a complete ban" of MHF.

The non-governmental Torrance Refinery Action Alliance has created maps visible on its website showing the group's estimate of areas at risk from MHF at both refineries.


Graphic and text source: Estimate by Torrance Refinery Action Alliance


Graphic and text source: Estimate by Torrance Refinery Action Alliance

On April 28, hundreds of people attended an SCAQMD Refinery Committee community meeting in Torrance on the issue. LBREPORT.com previewed the meeting at this link and attended the event and reported on it in detail at this link. In our report, we noted the SCAQMD chair Dr. Bill Burke indicated that a second meeting would be scheduled and held in Wilmington.

SCAQMD has now scheduled its second community meeting on Rule 1410 on Saturday Sept. 22 at 9:00 a.m. at the Wilmington Middle School auditorium, 1700 Gulf Ave. in Wilmington.

SCAQMD staff's agendized PPT presentation for the Sept. 22 meeting can be viewed at this link.

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An SCAQMD Power Point "Status Update" previews SCAQMD staff's presentation at this link.

The full Committee meeting agenda can be viewed here.

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Since at least 2017, SQAMD has had a "working group" discussing development of proposed Rule 1410. Its roster is visible at this link and indicates it included no representatives of the City of Long Beach or any Long Beach grassroots or neighborhood groups. One of the "working group" members -- representing the City of Los Angeles (Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration) -- is Uduak-Joe Ntuk, who was elected earlier this year to LBCC's governing Board of Trustees. LBREPORT.com spotted Mr. Ntuk at the April 2018 Torrance meeting at which time he politely declined comment and noted his involvement was in the capacity as a representative of the City of Los Angeles.

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LBREPORT.com this morning (Sept. 21) inquired from City of LB staff if it has taken any position to date on proposed Rule 1410 or if SCAQMD had contacted the City about the issue; a response is currently pending.

[Update per SCAQMD Media Relations Mgr. Sam Atwood] "With regard to the city manager of Long Beach, they are on the mailing list for our Rule 1410 activities however I donít know whether we have had any direct contact with them on this rule proposal. [end Update]

A number of persons and entities have filed written comments in the proceeding. They include some area elected officials and advocacy groups and can be viewed at this link.

The only Long Beach entity to have filed comments visible on SCAQMD's website to date has been the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (August 2017) whose August 2017 letter can be viewed at this link.


In terms of procedure, after hearing staff, expert and public testimony at its Sept. 22 meeting, the SCAQMD Refinery Committee can issue directions to SCAQMD staff on what direction(s) to take. [update] Per SCAQMD Media Relations Manager Sam Atwood: The Refinery Committee could send the proposal to SCAQMD's Stationary Source Committee OR alternately recommend that it go directly to the full SCAQMD Board. "Either way, it will likely be a few months before it's considered by the full Board in a public hearing. And in the meantime, there will be more public working groups with industry and community stakeholders." [end Update]

Developing. Further to follow on LBREPORT.com.


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