Today’s Top Five Posts

Click titles below to go directly to today’s top posts:

“Refinery Explosions Raise New Warnings About Deadly Chemical” – NPR

by Susan Phillips

Click image to watch a terrifying video of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery explosion on Friday, June 21, 2019. Note object being hurled from the explosion to the right. With the PES refinery closing, now Torrance CA has the infamous distinction of having the densest population around an HF refinery. The video is from 6abc/WPVI−TV Action News in Philadelphia.

“How many times do we try this before we actually get a release that kills 1,000 people? . . . People should never have been allowed to live this close to these refineries. It’s just unconscionable to have allowed that to happen.”
~ Dr. Ron Koopman, conductor of the 1986 “Goldfish” hydrogen fluoride release tests in the Nevada desert

In the predawn hours of June 21, explosions at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in South Philadelphia shook houses, sent fireballs into the air and woke up nearby residents.

“Three loud explosions, one after the other, boom, boom boom!” says David Masur, who lives about two miles from the plant and has two young kids. “It’s a little nerve-wracking.”

Masur watched as the refinery spewed black smoke above the city, easily visible from his home. But what he didn’t know at the time was just how close he and his family came to getting exposed to hydrogen fluoride, one of the deadliest chemicals used by refiners and other industrial manufacturers.

Continue reading by clicking:
Refinery Explosions Raise New Warnings About Deadly Chemical

Listen to the companion interview with NPR’s Susan Phillips by clicking here

“This Chemical Kills. Why Aren’t Regulators Banning It?” – New York Times Opinion Piece

by Daniel Horowitz, an organic chemist and former managing director of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

A fiery refinery blast in Philadelphia could be just the beginning.

Last month’s spectacular explosions at a large Philadelphia oil refinery complex injured five workers, terrorized city residents and drove up gasoline prices. But the impact could have been vastly worse had the explosions triggered a release from the refinery’s huge inventory of toxic hydrogen fluoride — up to 420,000 pounds’ worth, according to information the company filed with the Environmental Protection Agency in 2017. That disaster, had it occurred amid the chaos on the morning of June 21, would have imperiled hundreds of thousands of people living within a few miles of the plant. …

Continue reading on the New York Times website by clicking:
This Chemical Kills. Why Aren’t Regulators Banning It?

1986 Hydrofluoric Acid Release Test

Video of the 1986 “Goldfish” Release Test of hydrofluoric acid (HF) shows the formation and spread of a ground-hugging toxic cloud. In the test carried out by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory research scientist Dr. Ronald R. Koopman, 8,300 lbs. of HF were released within 2 minutes. 100% of the acid became airborne in a dense, ground-hugging cloud of deadly HF. Two miles downwind, the HF cloud had more than twice the lethal concentration. Consider that each of the two settler tanks at the Torrance Refinery holds 50,000 lbs. of HF — six times more than the 1986 “Goldfish” Release Test.

Compare these “Goldfish” test results to the large-scale accidental release of the vastly safer alternative sulfuric acid at the Tesoro Refinery in Martinez, California, on February 12, 2014.

While the Torrance and Wilmington Valero refineries use Modified Hydrofluoric Acid (MHF) with 6-10% sulfolane to reduce volatility, the amount is far too little to prevent a toxic cloud, a fact that has been confirmed by the AQMD.

Click the image above to watch the video and click the title below to read the 1988 Los Angeles Times article on the test:
Experts Warn of Lethal Risk Posed by Acid in L.A. Refineries

A Rule 1410 Performance Standard to Protect the Community

TRAABy the Torrance Refinery Action Alliance Science Advisory Panel

A Performance Standard Must Be Designed to Protect the Community, Not Tailored to What the Refineries Are Able to Meet with Enhanced Mitigation


The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has proposed Rule 1410 to address the threat of a catastrophic major release of highly toxic hydrogen fluoride (HF) into the community from two refineries in the South Bay— Valero in Wilmington and PBF’s Torrance Refining Company in Torrance. The Torrance Refinery Action Alliance (TRAA) — a volunteer, grassroots, community group — is seeking a ban on the use of HF. TRAA’s goal is to have HF removed from the two South Bay refineries within four years from the time SCAQMD finalizes its rule-making process. It may take longer for the refineries to transition to one of the vastly safer alkylation processes; but no longer than four years into that process, the last of the HF must be removed from the refineries.

The Performance Standard approach, along with other approaches, was first presented by the SCAQMD Staff to the AQMD Board’s Refinery Committee on September 22, 2018. Since then, a Performance Standard, with HF phase-out if it cannot be met, has become the central approach adopted by the Staff for either a regulation or a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the refineries. TRAA has a policy of not taking a position on a particular approach. However, given that the SCAQMD has adopted an approach based on a Performance Standard, TRAA’s Science Advisory Panel of six South Bay scientists and engineers with extensive and applicable academic training and career experience, while not endorsing this approach, has a vital interest in providing expert professional advice to ensure the approach is scientifically sound and leads to the elimination of HF from the refineries. The TRAA Science Advisory Panel’s Performance Standard was written with the Torrance refinery in mind; however, it also applies to Valero. The hyperlinks add important content — they should not be skipped over.

Continue reading . . . 

TRAA Video – MHF Must Be Eliminated from Refineries to Keep the Community Safe

Experts testify on the danger of hydrofluoric acid and the lack of preparedness in response to a major release.

Click the image above to watch TRAA’s short six-minute video of experts testifying on the extreme health and safety danger from a major release of hydrofluoric acid.

View all of the TRAA Videos by clicking here.

TRAA Community Response at the June 22 SCAQMD Refinery Committee Meeting

TRAAPresented by TRAA Member Cliff Heise:

We’re here because two refineries in the South Bay use massive quantities of one of the world’s most dangerous industrial chemicals, “hydrogen fluoride.” An additive touted by refineries for decades as the community’s primary safeguard has been unmasked as completely ineffective. As Congressmember Ted Lieu has stated, the community has been “hoodwinked.” Elimination of hydrogen fluoride is the only measure that will ensure community safety.

Performance Standards

The AQMD has adopted a Performance Standard approach. If the refineries fail to demonstrate that they can protect the public from a major release, then hydrogen fluoride must be phased out.

A Performance Standard Must Be Designed to Protect the Community, Not Tailored to What the Refineries Are Able to Meet with Enhanced Mitigation
We respectfully implore the Refinery Committee to give direction to Staff to create a Performance Standard to protect the community.

Continue reading “TRAA Community Response at the June 22 SCAQMD Refinery Committee Meeting”