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AQMD cites Torrance refinery, saying gas flares caused air pollution

AQMD cites Torrance refinery, saying gas flares caused air pollution
A flaring event at the Torrance Refining Co. facility was triggered by a power outage that left more than 100,000 South Bay residents without electricity. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles)

Air quality regulators have issued a notice of violation to the Torrance Refining Co., saying the 750-acre refinery — whose flare stacks shot flames and billowed thick black smoke Tuesday — had caused a public nuisance with air pollution.

The former Exxon Mobil refinery "has been responsible for an unacceptably high number of flaring events resulting from shutdowns at its Torrance facility," the South Coast Air Quality Management District said in a news release Thursday.

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The refinery, owned by New Jersey-based  PBF Energy, lost power Tuesday morning as a result of faulty wiring during the upgrade of a substation, according to Southern California Edison.

The shutdown left about 100,000 customers without electricity in the South Bay, and the resulting eruptions from the refinery prompted the city to order residents to keep their doors and windows closed. Most customers had power restored within hours.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District said the refinery had flared twice before this year — after a software malfunction in July and a power cut in September.

The agency said it would seek an order from its hearing board seeking improvements in maintenance, monitoring and electrical infrastructure at the refinery. Public hearings will be held to address concerns.

Twitter: @LATchrisgoffard

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