The California EPA held two hearings as part of its process in drafting and implementing new regulations for refinery safety in California in the South Bay. On Monday, June 29, 2015, a very good crowd appeared at the USW Hall in Carson to hear the presentation, offer public comments and ask questions. There was fantastic participation from “I Heart Wilmington,” a local community group designed to bring attention to the many challenges this front line community faces as a result of the 6 refineries which ring the Los Angeles Harbor.
After the February explosion in Torrance, a new group of activists — the Torrance Refinery Action Alliance — has also formed to bring attention to the fact that Modified Hydrofluoric Acid is being used at the refinery and the February explosion was a “near miss” to equipment which houses this very dangerous chemical. Sherry Lear and Joe Galliani of South Bay 350 Climate Action Group took part in the hearing as well. Sherry Lear noted that the inconsistencies in safety protocols between refineries across the State and asked the panel to start a “race to the top” to make sure that all refineries have real and effective safety and emergency preparedness measures in place along with increased fines and penalties to make sure Big Oil actually follows the regulations. Joe Galliani spoke passionately about the fact that the Torrance Explosion happened on the EPA’s watch and that the regulations being proposed left much to be desired and fail to address the need to transition our economy off of fossil fuels.
Jesse Marquez, the founder and executive director of The Coalition For A Safe Environment (CFACE), spoke truth to power about the realities for those front line communities living near refineries. The panel listened attentively and received a lot of important information from the participants. There was a second hearing at the Torrance Library on June 30, 2015 which was not as well attended but produced just as many important comments and considerations. Thanks to all who participated.