California Refinery Blast Sprays Ash, Bursts Windows

February 18, 2015

An explosion and fire at Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Torrance, California, refinery sent ash spraying on nearby cars and burst windows of surrounding buildings Wednesday.

The explosion occurred near a fluid catalytic cracking unit of the refinery, according to David Campbell, the treasurer and secretary of the local chapter of the United Steelworkers that represent operators at the plant.

Emergency responders confirmed that a fire and explosion had taken place at the refinery.

Oil RefineryThe refinery suffered structural damage, ABC7.com reported.

Helicopter news footage on local television station KNBC showed a scene of twisted metal wreckage as firefighters poured streams of water on the refinery. A few vans were covered in ash and debris with their doors open.

Exxon Mobil said the incident occurred about 8:50 a.m. local time.

“Emergency procedures have been activated to address the incident, and employees are working with the appropriate agencies,” the company said in a statement.

The company said it was evaluating the cause of the incident, according to Gesuina Paras, a public and government affairs advisor at the company.

Exxon didn’t immediately say whether there were any injuries at the plant. Nearby schools were told to shelter in place, according to local media reports.

The incident comes as the United Steelworkers have walked out of 11 facilities, including nine refineries, after negotiations on a national contract stalled on Feb. 1. One of the central issues, according to the USW, is employee safety.

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw and Steve Gorman; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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