Exxon Torrance refinery leak leads to warning for area residents

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 24, 2015 1:12 AM

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A leak on Friday night at Exxon Mobil Corp's 149,500 barrel per day (bpd) Torrance, California, refinery led to a warning for residents in the area to remain indoors due to a possible health hazard, the company said.

"In an abundance of caution, the refinery activated the Crenshaw Boulevard barriers and the Torrance Fire Department sounded the community warning sirens to alert the public to shelter in place," said Exxon spokesman Todd Spitler in a statement.

The barriers stop traffic near the refinery and a shelter-in-place order tells residents to remain indoors.

The Daily Breeze newspaper, citing Torrance police and fire officials, said a leak from a pipe on the crude unit took place at the refinery.

Spitler said an upset on a unit caused a release of mostly steam into the atmosphere. He added that air monitoring detected no danger to public health.

A notice Exxon filed with the California Office of Emergency Management said an unknown amount of pitch was released by the refinery. Pitch, which is also called bitumen or asphalt, can be derived from petroleum.

Refinery production has been curtailed since a February explosion on the main gasoline-producing unit.

Exxon agreed on Sept. 30 to sell the refinery to PBF Energy Inc for $537.5 million plus working capital. The refinery is expected to be back to full production by the time the transaction is scheduled close in the second quarter of 2016.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)