Supervisor Hahn Responds to SCAQMD Vote to Drop Phase-out of MHF

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 6, 2019
Contact: Liz Odendahl lodendahl@bos.lacounty.gov
o: (213) 974-4444 c: (213) 379-6301

Supervisor Hahn Disappointed in SCAQMD Vote to Allow Refineries Continued Use of Deadly Chemical in Torrance and Wilmington 

Diamond Bar, CA— Today, Supervisor Janice Hahn is speaking out against the SCAQMD Governing Board’s decision to drop their pursuit of a rule that would phase out and ban the use of deadly Modified Hydrofluoric Acid (MHF) at local refineries.  Refineries had proffered a series of voluntary safety measures in exchange for the Board dropping the rulemaking process as well as dropping pursuit of a possible MOU.

Supervisor Janice Hahn voted no on the refineries’ proposal. She maintains that removing MHF is the only way to remove risk from the communities she represents.  The proffer accepted today offers no accountability and no assurances that any of it will actually be implemented.

“I am disappointed in this vote. This chemical is deadly and it is a constant threat. The refineries should implement every safety measure possible – but they will fail in the event of a major earthquake, explosion, or attack.  I am angry on behalf of the residents I represent, and I will continue to fight for this dangerous chemical to be removed from our refineries.”

Modified Hydrofluoric Acid is used in just two refineries in California: the Torrance Refinery and the Valero Refinery in Wilmington.

Liz Odendahl
Communications Director
LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn

Refineries quietly try to end Hydrogen Fluoride (HF) regulation on Friday, 9/6/19

The two refineries using “modified” Hydrogen Fluoride (HF) in California are quietly trying to escape from further regulation of HF by offering to add more water sprays, sensors, and barriers.   But they would only agree to do this do this if the AQMD agrees not to do any further regulation of HF in their refineries.

These two letters are hidden at the end of the otherwise routine Minutes from the Refinery Committee meeting of June 22.  The AQMD Board will be voting on this Friday morning at their Diamond Bar headquarters.

We need you to be there to tell the AQMD Board not to allow this, to continue with developing a Rule 1410 to ban MHF.

To read the minutes and the letters from the refineries, see
page 11 in the meeting agenda: http://www.aqmd.gov/docs/default-source/Agendas/Governing-Board/2019/2019-sep6-017.pdf?sfvrsn=6

When:

9 am Friday September 6

Where:

South Coast Air Quality Management District Auditorium
21865 Copley Drive
Diamond Bar, CA 91765


Carpools:  You are welcome to join carpools to the AQMD meeting.  We will be meeting at Columbia Park in Torrance, Prairie just north of 190th,  leaving at 6:45 am.

More comments:
Water sprays, sensors, and barriers would help control small to medium-sized leaks of HF, but not unexpected catastrophic releases.  The only way to be sure that there will be no massive release of HF is not to have it in our communities.  The Wilmington Valero refinery would make changes sometime in the future.  The Torrance Refinery changes seem mostly intended to protect against a rerun of the 2015 explosion.

We are not demanding that the refineries close.  There are alternative refining methods that would allow the refineries to stay open but get rid of HF.

There is no way to know whether HF has leaked into surrounding communities, since the refineries do not have fenceline monitors.

Long Beach Mayor Garcia Urges SCAQMD to Begin Immediate Phase Out HF

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has sent a letter to the SCAQMD urging that the SCAQMD “take steps that ensures that proposed Rule 1410 addresses our concerns and begins the phase-out process of MHF immediately.”

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has sent a letter to the SCAQMD urging that the SCAQMD “take steps that ensures that proposed Rule 1410 addresses our concerns and begins the phase-out process of MHF immediately.”

MRG-re.-Rule-1410-AQMD-6-2019

Click here to download.

SCAQMD Rule 1410 Refinery Committee Meeting

The SCAQMD Rule 1410 Refinery Committee Meeting is 6/22 in Diamond Bar at 10 am. Join our caravan to the event or ride the bus.

JOIN THE CARAVAN TO THE SCAQMD
RULE 1410 REFINERY COMMITTEE MEETING ON
SATURDAY, JUNE 22ND

Meeting Starts @ 10AM

Transportation will be provided but you
must RSVP by Tuesday, June 18th to secure your seat.

Gather at Wilson Park in Torrance
or
the Wilmington Senior Center

Leave time is 8:30am, respectively.
Coffee, pastries and fruit will be provided.

RSVP mjohnson@bos.lacounty.gov &
cc: info@traasouthbay.com

As always, please reach out with any questions you may have.
info@traasouthbay.com

Call to Action: Urge Gov. Newsom to Protect Our Community

Gov. Newsom will soon appoint a new member of the SCAQMD Governing Board. Urge him to select someone who will prioritize our community.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District is the government body responsible for ensuring that the air quality is protected for significant portions of Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles counties. It is managed by a Governing Board consisting of 13 representatives. There is currently one vacancy on the board, and that position is appointed by the governor.

We encourage you to contact Governor Newsom’s office and urge him to appoint somebody who will prioritize protecting the community from pollution, from catastrophic accidents as well as continual low-level air pollution.

Gov. Newsom Contact Information:

Link to Email him:
https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/

Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

Mailing address:

Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814


Possible Messages:

  • “M”HF puts hundreds of thousands of people at risk of death or serious injury.
  • Two local refineries use tons of it.
  • Refineries could not contain a major release.
  • People could not evacuate.
  • Nearby people would have no warning, could not Shelter In Place.
  • Medical facilities and emergency responders are not prepared to cope with a major “M”HF release.
  • Get “M”HF out of our communities.

Call to Action: Request AQMD Committee Meeting to be Held in South Bay

The AQMD is tentatively planning the next Refinery Committee Meeting in Diamond Bay. Urge the AQMD to assist local residents to be heard by holding the meeting in the South Bay.

The AQMD is tentatively planning the next Refinery Committee Meeting in Diamond Bar instead of the South Bay. That plan will make it much harder for local residents to be heard.

Call the Committee Chair, Larry McCallon at 909-864-6861 ext 302 and request that the Refinery Committee Meeting be held in the South Bay, not in Diamond Bar.

LA County Public Health Official Urges Phase Out of MHF

The Los Angeles County Department of Health has sent a letter to the South Coast Air Quality Management District urging the phase out of MHF as soon as possible. Angelo Bellomo, the county deputy director for health protection stated in a letter that a large scale release of MHF “would have potentially catastrophic impacts on surrounding communities.” For more information, read the Daily Breeze article by clicking here.

Court Protects MHF Documents for Big Oil

NEWS FLASH! A court order has been issued, responding to a May 2017 DoJ Petition to enforce U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) subpoenas for information on the 2015 Torrance explosion. The court DENIED virtually every request related to the modified hydrofluoric acid (MHF) unit, needed to determine the causes and potential consequences of the NEAR MISS on a tank with 50,000 lb. MHF on 2/18/2015. Most other requests were approved. http://bit.ly/2zELAj9  Here’s the DoJ petition: http://bit.ly/2pPOFqs 

Thus government shields industry’s dirty secret: MHF is as deadly as hydrofluoric acid (HF). TRAA’s Science Advisory Panel has proven it, and the CSB, EPA, and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) acknowledge it in “preliminary” comments. Yet there’s no official announcement. If MHF were officially recognized as a fraud now, the surge in public awareness and anger could lead to a successful ban. So government is being coerced by industry to delay while the clock runs out on Rule 1410 and AB 1645 to ban MHF.

If industry succeeds, MHF will return to being a hidden deadly risk until exposed by another accident, possibly a deadly one. MHF must be banned BEFORE a disaster, not AFTER. Refuse to be complacent. Do what you can, no matter how small… We have 3-6 months left to act. 

We suggest: Volunteer to canvass in your neighborhood (Contact: TRAASouthBay at gmail.com). Visit TRAASouthBay.com to sign up for our twice a month newsletter and to send letters of support on Rule 1410 and AB 1645, to sign the petition, and to learn more. If nothing else, donate. For more on what can be done: http://bit.ly/2qaFuCp

TRAA Meets with CA Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia

This past week, TRAA met with Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, (who represents the 58th District of California: Bell Gardens, Pico Rivera, Downey, Cerritos, etc) as part of TRAA’s campaign to win support for a ban on MHF by means of AQMD Rule 1410 and AB 1645. TRAA presented information about the dangers of MHF and the achievements of TRAA. Assemblywoman Garcia, who has a strong environmental record was supportive and offered invaluable advice in campaigning for this issue. She joins a growing list of community leaders who understand the importance of banning this deadly chemical.

If you would like to join future visits to elected officials, business and community leaders come to the Monday night meeting and get involved. If Cristina Garcia is your Assemblywoman and you would like to reiterate the message TRAA presented, you may message her directly here.

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Another Victory!

But we still have a lot of work ahead of us….

Governor Jerry Brown signed 3 of Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi’s Refinery Safety bills. It is a bittersweet moment. These bills sailed through. But CA politicians sat on Muratsuchi’s AB 1645 to BAN modified hydrofluoric acid (MHF) alkylation. Unfortunately, we may not get the region-wide sectored siren system needed to warn of a significant MHF release. Official EPA risk reports for MHF remain unrevised, despite EPA acknowledgement that they’re wrong. It’s up to the community to fight for AB 1645 and for an interim warning system that’s adequate. AB 1645 will be up for consideration by January 2018 in Quirk’s Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. Click here and scroll down to send letters to the AQMD board on Rule 1410 to ban MHF. We are planning a similar capability for AB 1645 in the near future. Come to TRAA’s meeting this Monday, 6pm. Torrance Sizzler at 2880 Sepulveda.

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