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Excess Pressure Buildup Causes Refinery Explosion in Torrance

refineryA serious explosion rocked the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance on February 18, leaving workers and residents across the surrounding region concerned about injuries, property damage and potential environmental contamination. Shaking homes and businesses for miles around the site of the blast in southern Los Angeles County, the explosion left at least four employees injured and several others requiring formal decontamination at the scene.

Explosion rattled neighbors, site employees

Occurring at 8:50 a.m., the aftermath of the explosion was characterized by thick smoke and mangled structures in and around the refinery situated just south of the 405 Freeway. According to officials at Caltech, the resulting jolt was comparable to an earthquake with a magnitude of 1.7, which is what many in the area initially believed they were experiencing. An ash-like substance containing glass wool and fiberglass was sent flying into nearby neighborhoods, alarming those living and working in the area.

Victims can benefit from the help of a Los Angeles toxic exposure attorney

Incidents such as the ExxonMobil refinery explosion have the potential to cause serious harm to individuals who are on the job as well as those living and working in the surrounding areas. The range of possible injuries stemming from an accident of this nature is quite broad, and it’s important for victims to assert the rights to compensation the legal system affords.

Depending on the nature of the injuries sustained and the manner in which the harm occurred, it may be possible to secure payment for losses including:

  • Past, present and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Ongoing physical and other therapy

Those whose injuries occur during the course of their employment may need to seek coverage through the California Workers Compensation system. Such situations present a whole host of unique challenges and bureaucratic hurdles, and the attorneys at Ellis Law possess the experience necessary to help clients navigate the system and maximize their recovery.

Smoke advisory initially issued

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) almost immediately issued a smoke advisory for areas near the refinery as a result of the incident’s release of ash and smoke into the air. Residents and others in the vicinity were advised to avoid outdoor exertion or exercise, closely monitor children and the elderly, keep doors and windows closed and run air conditioning where possible. The agency ultimately reported that while the airborne material did contain glass wool and fiberglass, it was not found to contain any asbestos. Samples pulled from neighboring areas found that it contained metals utilized in the facility’s fluid catalytic cracking function.

ExxonMobil advised concerned residents to remove any remaining dust or residue by using water combined with mild soap. Since the blast occurred, SCAQMD has received numerous complaints about air quality, though a subsequent analysis has revealed that the deposited material contained only trace amounts of hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen.

Over-pressurization determined to be cause of explosion

A SCAQMD report released this week found that the refinery explosion was the result of over-pressurization of the facility’s air pollution control system. The pollution control devices are relatively new, only in operation for the past few years. However, the root cause of the excessive pressurization of the unit is not presently known and remains the subject of an intensive investigation.

Speak free-of-charge with an experienced lawyer you can trust

If you or a loved one have sustained serious injuries in a workplace incident or accident involving potential toxic exposure, you owe it to yourself to contact a skilled Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. For a no-cost consultation, contact Ellis Law at 1-800-INJURED.

  1. Los Angeles Times, Too much pressure in equipment triggered Torrance refinery explosion, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-exxon-mobil-refinery-blast-20150223-story.html
  2. State of California Department of Industrial Relations, Attorney Information, http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/Attorney.htm
  3. South Coast Air Quality Management District, SCAQMD Issues Smoke Advisory Due to ExxonMobil Incident, http://www.aqmd.gov/home/library/public-information/2015-news-archives/exxonadvisory