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Muratsuchi, Colleagues Raise Concerns At Assembly Labor Committee Hearing

For immediate release:

“Refinery workers are on the front line of refinery safety”

(SACRAMENTO) -  The Assembly Labor Committee held an informational hearing today to review legislation passed in the wake of the Chevron plant fire in Richmond in 2013, which was designed to address refinery safety issues for workers and communities.  Like the Richmond area, the South Bay is home to several refineries that have at times put the neighboring communities at risk—including an explosion at a refinery in Torrance that continues to cause trepidation in the community.

Assemblymember Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) testified before the committee, highlighting the importance of highly skilled workers at the refinery in Torrance.  He made the following statement:

“I have the privilege of representing the South Bay area of Los Angeles, which includes the city of Torrance. On February 18, 2015, there was an explosion at the Torrance refinery.  My wife, my six year old daughter, and I lived just a few miles from the explosion site.  The explosion caused an 80,000 pound section of the refinery to fly almost a hundred feet and land near a tank filled with a highly toxic and deadly chemical, hydrofluoric acid.  According to the chair of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the Torrance refinery explosion was a near catastrophe.   Hydrofluoric acid, if released, can form a ground-hugging cloud and drift for miles, threatening the lives not only of refinery workers, but of thousands of people living in the densely populated suburban neighborhoods surrounding the refinery. I share this to highlight the importance of refinery safety, for our families, and for our communities.  As we all know, refineries can be dangerous places. And that is why I supported SB 54 in my first term in 2013.  We need the best trained, most skilled workforce, workers who have graduated from approved apprenticeship programs, to maintain and operate our state’s refineries.  We do not want out of state contract workers with little training and experience working at these hazardous facilities. Now, let me be clear.  I am not anti-oil, and I am not anti-refinery.  I just want to make our refineries safer for our workers and our communities. The Torrance refinery, like refineries throughout the state, is a big part of the local economy, and a major source of jobs. I would like to see the Torrance refinery continue to operate in a safer manner, and I support refinery jobs, especially good union jobs, with project labor agreements and prevailing wages.”