With the exception of a few mentions in the mainstream press when the incident originally occurred, Exxon is getting away with murder concerning their most recent snafu. I’m talking about the huge explosion at a gasoline refinery in Torrance, California that rained toxic ash on playgrounds and homes. Exxon assured their employees, and local citizens that “all was well,” though.
So what did happen at the Exxon plant, and why hasn’t it been talked about more since its occurrence? Employees who were present said there was a huge sonic boom, a fire, and loads of ash raining down on them.
Furthermore, a structure at the refinery was visibly damaged, with smoke smoldering from twisted metal, and with the air near the blast site smelling of sulfur and chemicals.
Is Exxon trying to hide the true toxic fall-out from Torrance residents? Inspectors were supposed to take air samples “as quickly as possible,” but no follow up reports have been released since the incident happened in February.
There are videos of the fire, but what is more important is the evidence of toxic damage to the environment.
Gasoline processing is a very toxic endeavor. The byproducts created are numerous. Petroleum contains more than 150 chemicals, including benzene, toluene and sometimes lead. What happened to all those chemicals when the plant exploded? They didn’t just float away.
According to an article at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, exposure to gasoline (via the air, among other methods) can cause seizures, unconsciousness, and death. It can also harm the nervous system, cause coma, and spark an inability to breathe. Inhaling high concentrations of gasoline can irritate the lungs, cause kidney, lung, and brain damage, and if you are pregnant, damage the unborn fetus.
“Inhaling or swallowing small amounts of gasoline can cause muscle weakness, cramps, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, confusion, disorientation, slurred speech, feelings of intoxication, irregular heartbeat, insomnia, irritation of the stomach lining, and swelling and irritation of the nose and throat. Direct eye contact with gasoline may cause permanent eye damage. Direct skin contact with gasoline can irritate and burn the skin.”
There is no way a plume of fire and smoke that large were contained within just the confines of the plant itself.
A resident described what he observed:
“At about 11:30 that morning, an officer called and said ‘I talked to them; it’s okay, just wash it away.’ And no tests were done at 11:30 in the morning,” Commiso said. “A shelter in place was still active, but the fire department was telling me I could wash it down the storm drain.”
Others who live a full three miles away from the site also experienced ash falling on them. Their patio furniture was even sprinkled with toxic, chemical ash.
Exxon owes the city of Torrance a full investigative report on the damage the explosion caused. It shouldn’t be ignored.