On the morning of February 18, 2015, the ExxonMobil oil refinery in Torrance, California exploded, causing chemical ash to rain on the surrounding community for hours. Eight workers had to be decontaminated and four were sent to hospitals with minor injuries.
California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) ordered ExxonMobil to shut down the unit until it could demonstrate safe operation.
In August, Cal/OSHA issued 19 citations for workplace safety and health violations at the Torrance refinery. The company was fined $566,600 in penalties in connection with the blast.
The explosion resulted in the costliest disruption at a California refinery in the past 16 years, with motorists paying at least $2.4 billion in higher pump prices in the following six months.
After spending around $162 million to repair the damaged equipment and upgrade the other equipment, it was given the green light to restart operations from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) in April.
With new evidence that the explosion could have been much worse, and that other aging refineries around the country are also at risk, scientists, industry watchdogs and a few lawmakers are sounding an alarm.