An explosion and fire at the then ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California, on Feb 18, 2015, caused serious property damage to the refinery and scattered catalyst dust up to a mile away from the facility into the nearby community.
The incident caused the refinery to run at limited capacity for over a year, raising gas prices in California and costing drivers in the state an estimated $2.4 billion.
A new chilling video by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) shows the details behind the incident that led to the major blast.
“This explosion and near miss should not have happened, and likely would not have happened, had a more robust process safety management system been in place,” said CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. “The CSB’s report concludes that the unit was operating without proper procedures.”
The CSB video showed it is critical that hydrocarbons do not flow into the air side of the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, as this can create an explosive atmosphere.
The CSB determined on the day of the incident a slide valve that acted as a barrier failed. That failure ultimately allowed hydrocarbons to flow into the air side of the FCC, where they ignited in a piece of equipment called the electrostatic precipitator, or ESP, causing an explosion of the ESP.
Click here to view the video.