Frightening refineries

From the November-December 2019 issue of News & Letters

Los Angeles—On Oct. 15, more than 140 Los Angeles residents signed up to give public comment regarding a proposed ordinance to require setbacks of at least 2,500 feet between homes and oil derricks and refineries.

Sherri Lear introduced herself as “a single mom, a resident of San Pedro and a business owner in Torrance. I live in the shadows of the Phillips 66 refinery, and I work in the shadows of the Torrance refinery. If you come down to Wilmington you will see that these are literally next to peole’s backyards. They are in the parking lot at the Carson Target, in parking lots of churches. There are zero setbacks.”

Only days after firefighters had quelled a ferocious blaze in the mountains north of Porter Ranch, Calif., where a major natural gas leak had been detected at a SoCalGas facility in 2016, John Carran reminded the chamber that “the hills of Aliso Canyon are charred black right now. A hundred thousand people had to evacuate during the fires and had to wonder if there would be another explosion.”

Meanwhile, just before 2:00 p.m., a NuStar refinery caught fire 20 miles north of Oakland. A contractor told KPIX that he dove into a drainage ditch to avoid being burned to death in an explosion.

As 100,000 gallons of ethanol continued to burn for seven hours, I-80 was closed in both directions.

Residents were told to shelter inside their homes and to cover the thresholds of exterior doors with damp towels.

—Buddy Bell

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