ExxonMobil has completed the initial six hours of restarting its Torrance refinery without pollution-control devices and has resumed operation of its electrostatic precipitator, the region’s air pollution watchdog confirmed today.
“The ESP is now full functioning,” Sam Atwood, a spokesman with the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said via email. “They are in the process of restarting the refinery, which will probably take a couple of days.”
The refinery, which processes about 155,000 barrels of crude oil a day when it is fully operational, was restarted overnight without using the pollution-control device, which is where hydrocarbons ignited and caused a massive explosion in February 2015.
The refinery has remained offline since.
Officials said emissions would peak for the first six hours, but were not expected to rise to levels that would affect public health.
Some Torrance residents, including those with grass-roots group Families Lobbying Against Refinery Exposures, complained about a paucity of official information regarding the restart via email this morning.
“We are trying to advise families as to whether the unmitigated particulate matter is still happening so they can decide whether kids should walk to school,” Torrance resident Maureen Mauk said via email about 7:20 a.m. “I am really disappointed with the AQMD.”
The AQMD had not updated its website by 9 a.m.
Several city Twitter accounts announced at about 7:40 a.m. that “the ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery has completed its scheduled activities,” although it was unclear exactly what that meant.