The following is a status update of the voluntary safety enhancement projects the Torrance Refining has completed on its Alkylation Unit in cooperation with local, state and federal agencies.
California residents live in a state with the strictest environmental regulations, yet they still enjoy freedom to drive where they want, when they want, and in the vehicles of their choice with the reassurance their local refineries produce the world’s cleanest-burning gasoline using process called alkylation. The unique, cleaner-burning gasoline mandated to be sold in California requires a high-octane component called alkylate to comply with the most stringent tailpipe emissions in the world. To meet the State’s requirements, Torrance Refinery has been safely and reliably manufacturing alkylate using hydrogen fluoride (HF), including Modified Hydrogen Fluoride (MHF) for more than 60-years, without an offsite release.
MHF was the subject of a thorough technology review by a court-appointed Safety Advisor with input from the City of Torrance. The work of the Safety Auditor was overseen by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge and approved prior to use of MHF at the refinery. Despite this, for more than seven years, members of small, local activist groups have been irresponsibly making claims against the Refinery’s use of MHF, without any basis in fact. They claim, “nothing has been done…,” to protect the community from MHF, without any proof, other than their beliefs, which are incorrect and misleading.
As a reminder, the safety and health of our neighbors, employees, and contract partners is so important to us that despite more than 60-years of using this acid and the Refinery’s safety systems successfully protecting generations of our coworkers and the community, we voluntarily enhanced the Alkylation Unit’s robust, layered safety systems – already considered by experts to be amongst the most advanced in the world – by installing additional safety enhancements. The improvements include sophisticated leak detection, upgraded water monitors, automated unit cameras that are continuously monitored 24/7/365, an improved, expanded water mitigation system, and remote control of water systems. These safety enhancements were completed in 2020 and are now in service.
Additionally, in 2019, our offer to install additional voluntary safety enhancements on the Alkylation Unit was accepted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). These enhancements include installing a new protective steel structure, water mitigation dome and curtain, enhanced HF/MHF detection system, additional water mitigation monitors, and overpressure mitigation on the Refinery’s electrostatic precipitator. These safety enhancements were completed in 2021 and are now in service.
In 2020, we separately reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of a Supplemental Environmental Project to upgrade another water monitor. This safety enhancement was completed in 2021 and is also now in service.
Therefore, all the safety enhancements made in cooperation with the California Department of the Industrial Relations, Cal/OHSA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (“SCAQMD”) include:
- A new steel structure that shields and protects the Alkylation Unit’s acid settlers
- Settler area water mitigation dome and curtain
- Expanded water deluge system
- Settler area enhanced HF/MHF laser detection system
- Additional water mitigation monitors
- Improved remote control of water systems
- Sophisticated leak detection
- Automated high-definition camera system for visual detection monitored 24/7/365
- Overpressure mitigation on the Refinery’s electrostatic precipitator
We are very proud of the many technical advances we have added to our Alkylation Unit over the years, which is additional proof of our continuing commitment to safe, reliable operations. With the addition of these voluntary safety enhancements and other obligations completed and operating, we have fulfilled our obligation to further protect Refinery personnel and the community. The bottom line is Torrance Refinery now has the most advanced safety systems of any HF Alkylation Unit in California, the U.S., and the world. In addition, please keep in mind there are at least 50 other HF users in Southern California and more throughout the state, especially in agriculture, refrigeration, and high-tech applications.
As required by existing state law, every five years we explore the feasibility of emerging, alternative alkylation technology. Although small-scale, alternative alkylation technology options are under development, they still need to proven to be safe, mechanically reliable, and commercially viable at the scale of the Torrance Alkylation Unit. This is why we consider MHF to be safe, proven and superior to the alternative alkylation technology options at this time.
For more information on MHF Alkylation, including a video and thorough rebuttal of the misleading claims by activists, please see additional information under the MHF Facts tab on the Torrance Refinery website.