Damage to the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance is seen from Crenshaw Boulevard. Photo by John Schreiber.
Damage to the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance is seen from Crenshaw Boulevard. Photo by John Schreiber.

An “unplanned flaring event” at the Torrance Refining Co. — the second in as many days — prompted the closure of a section of Del Amo Boulevard for about two hours Monday morning, police said.

This morning’s flare-off was caused by an “offsite transformer failure” and resulted in the closure of Del Amo Boulevard between Maple Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard, the Torrance Police Department reported. The roadway was reopened shortly before 10 a.m.

According to the Torrance Fire Department, “electrical issues” that resulted in power outages in the community about 4:20 a.m. interrupted operations at the refinery.

“Torrance fire and police departments responded,” said Torrance fire Capt. Robert Millea. “Plant personnel are assessing the situation and are working to restore operations safely.”

The South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Office of Emergency Services were notified, and refinery personnel and the Torrance Fire Department “are jointly conducting fence line and community air monitoring,” he said.

Millea said the flare-off is a safety device that refineries use “to relieve pressure and ensure gases are safely combusted to minimize releases to the atmosphere.”

On Sunday, an “electrical issue” inside the plant resulted in a flare- off about 7 a.m., and prompted the closure of a section of Del Amo Boulevard in the area for 2 1/2 hours. Refinery operations also were affected, Millea said.     PBF Energy officially assumed ownership refinery — formerly known as the ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery — several months ago, and it became known as the Torrance Refining Co.

The transfer of ownership brought to an end to the oil giant’s catastrophic final months in charge of the aging plant after a February 2015 explosion shattered the confidence of residents in the company’s ability to operate it safely, according to the Daily Breeze.

“I really have empathy for the people of Torrance,” PBF CEO and Chairman Tom Nimbley said in July. “It’s been a difficult 18 months for them. Torrance was always viewed as the best refinery in the state. It’s our intention to get it back to that level.”

ExxonMobil’s safety record since the blast prompted the formation of no fewer than three grassroots groups that are demanding safety improvements.

—City News Service

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