The South Coast Air Quality Management District is expected to meet with representatives from the Torrance and Wilmington petroleum refineries on Saturday to discuss a proposal that could ban or change their use of modified hydrofluoric acid (MHF) — a potentially lethal chemical if leaked.
The two Southern California refineries are believed to be the only refineries in the state that use MHF.
Saturday’s meeting, which is open to the public, comes after two years of community groups pushing for a total ban of the toxic chemical following an explosion at the Torrance Refinery in February of 2015, where a 40-ton piece of debris landed just five feet away from a tank filled with thousands of gallons of the acid.
An MHF leak could cause a catastrophic public health issue because it doesn’t dissipate into the air and severely damages the eyes, lungs and heart function.
But the likelihood of a leak is very low, and critics say it would cost hundreds of jobs to remove or replace the chemical, causing a spike in gas prices.
We speak with KPCC’s Sharon McNary who has been following the story closely since the explosion, and hear from both sides of the proposal.
For more information on the public comment hearing on Saturday, click here.
Sharon McNary, infrastructure reporter for KPCC who’s been following this story
David Pettit, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council
Mike Karlovich, a spokesman for PBF Energy which owns the Torrance refinery