Governor Brown signs Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi’s California Refinery Jobs and Safety Action Plan bills

Monday, October 9, 2017

Torrance, CA – On Sunday, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi’s (D-Torrance) Assembly Bills (AB) 1646, 1647 and 1649. 

  • AB 1646 will protect communities surrounding petroleum refineries by requiring the development of effective community alert systems.  These systems will be used to notify communities, particularly schools, hospitals, and residential care homes, in the event of emergencies that may affect their lives and safety.  The community alert systems will utilize, as appropriate, the Emergency Alert System, text messaging, phone calls, social media communications, and audible alarms.  This new law will require local first responder agencies to operate the systems, and require the refineries to pay for their development, installation, operation, and maintenance. 
  • AB 1647 will provide vital air quality data to communities surrounding petroleum refineries by requiring the installation of air quality monitors at refinery fence lines and in the communities.  This new law will require air quality management districts and refineries to collect real-time data and to provide that data as quickly as possible in a publicly accessible format.  This new law will require local air districts to operate the community air monitors, and require the refineries to pay for their development, installation, operation, and maintenance.
  • AB 1649 will make all California refineries safer by requiring the California Environmental Protection Agency to work with specified federal, state, and local agencies to improve public and worker safety through enhanced oversight of refineries and to strengthen emergency preparedness in anticipation of any future refinery emergencies.  This new law is modeled on Governor Brown’s successful Interagency Task Force on Refinery Safety, which was formed following the 2012 Chevron refinery explosion in Richmond, California.

“I am pleased to deliver on my promise to make the Torrance Refinery, and all California refineries, safer,” stated Assemblymember Muratsuchi.  “While we still have much work to do, including my bill to ban refinery use of highly toxic hydrofluoric acid, these new laws are the result of a lot of hard work done with Torrance and other South Bay residents to protect our families and make our refineries safer.  I would like to give special thanks to South Bay FLARE and the Torrance Refinery Action Alliance for their tireless, ongoing efforts.” 

Muratsuchi continued, “When the Torrance refinery exploded in February 2015, my family lived just a few miles away, so this issue is personal for me.  The explosion raised calls for a more effective community alert system.  Frequent flaring following the explosion raised concerns about the toxic pollutants that the refinery was spewing into the air.  I then worked with concerned local citizens to develop my California Refinery Jobs and Safety Action Plan.  These new laws came from Torrance and South Bay residents who continue to fight for a safer refinery.” 

In addition to the three bills signed into law, Assemblymember Muratsuchi’s California Refinery Jobs and Safety Action Plan includes AB 1645, which would require any refinery using hydrofluoric acid, or any modified version of this highly toxic chemical, to either convert to less hazardous alternatives or cease using the chemical by 2020.  This bill is currently being held in the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee pending the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD) ongoing consideration of a phase out of hydrofluoric acid usage by the Torrance Refinery and the Valero Refinery in Wilmington, the only two refineries in California which still uses the toxic chemical.  SCAQMD is expected to announce their decision on hydrofluoric acid as early as December 2017.

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi represents California’s 66th Assembly District, which includes El Camino Village, Gardena, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance, and West Carson.  He serves as Chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and the Assembly Select Committee on Aerospace.  Muratsuchi is a member of the Assembly Committees on Budget, Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, Natural Resources, Utilities and Energy, and Veterans Affairs.