Refinery Air Monitoring

This page was last updated December 2015

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 Latest Information

Real-Time Refinery Fenceline and Community Monitoring Data

California Refinery Emergency Air Monitoring Capabilities Report Released

May 12, 2015

ARB’s Monitoring and Laboratory Division and the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA) have completed the first volume of the Refinery Emergency Air Monitoring Assessment Report. The May 2015 report, “Objective 1: Delineation of Existing Capabilities” is now available online.

The report provides a comprehensive inventory of emergency air monitoring assets and capabilities located in and around California’s fifteen major oil refineries. It serves as the basis for the ongoing assessment and guideline development phases of the project.

To view this report, please select the links below:

Refinery Emergency Air Monitoring Assessment Report: Objective 1 Final Report (1.8 MB)

Refinery Emergency Air Monitoring Assessment Report: Objective 1 Appendices (30.17 MB)

Torrance Refinery Incidents // Air Quality Impacts

Fire at ExxonMobil Torrance (March 11th, 2015)

Fire at ExxonMobil Torrance Extinguished (Reuters)

Firefighters Douse Another Fire at ExxonMobil Torrance (Daily Breeze)

ExxonMobil Torrance Air Impacts Assessment (February 18th, 2015)

add description The unit that reportedly failed is the electrostatic precipitator that separates solid catalyst fines from the flue gas of the fluid catalytic cracking unit in the refining process. The solid material produced from the precipitator is spent catalyst, composed chiefly of inert material such as alumina silicate or zeolite, with a trace amount of carbon and possibly trace metal(s). The carbon and metal (if any) is bonded to the inert substrate. The types of trace metal(s) present would depend on the specific crude feedstock's mineral content (if any) and the formulation of the catalyst in use (only ExxonMobil would know that.)

The "ash" present at Torrance is actually these gritty, largely inert fine particles. They do pose an inhalation risk as all particles do. Inhalation may also pose a risk of acute toxicity if inhalation cannot be avoided.

The other air pollutant of concern would be the petroleum smoke from the intensive flaring activity. This smoke contains a broad spectrum of unhealthful particles and toxic aerosols that of course should not be inhaled if at all possible.

South Coast Air Quality Management District has inspectors and emergency air monitoring personnel onsite in Torrance. They have deployed portable particulate matter monitors, two portable gas chromatographs and samplers for lab analysis of the solid "ash".

South Coast AQMD Updates on ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery Incident (February 25th, 2015)

South Coast Air Quality Smoke Advisory (February 18, 2015)

Exxon Mobil Refinery: Torrance - Los Angeles Times Article (February 19th, 2015)

Refinery Safety Report Released

The Governor's Interagency Working Group on Refinery Safety released its final report, Improving Public and Worker Safety at Oil Refineries in February 2014 and it is available here.

Refinery Air Monitoring Assessment Plan Released -- July 2013

ARB and the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA) released a plan to assess emergency air monitoring capabilities in communities near petroleum refineries throughout the State. This assessment is now in progress.

The 15-month project will be conducted collaboratively with local air monitoring agencies, emergency response agencies, and refineries. It will evaluate and make recommendations on the potential need for additional resources including equipment, services, staffing, and training to support local air emergency response programs.

This plan supports the mission of the Governor’s Interagency Working Group on Refinery Safety to improve public and worker safety through enhanced oversight of refineries, and to strengthen emergency preparedness in anticipation of any future incident. The Working Group consisted of participants from 13 agencies and departments, as well as the Governor’s office.

The plan, entitled Air Monitoring for Accidental Refinery Releases: Assessment of Capabilities and Potential Improvements Project Plan - July 2013 is available here.

Other Refinery News

U.S. Chemical Safety Board has released a draft regulatory report about the Chevron Richmond Refinery as of January 1st, 2014. See report.

 Information By Region

The buttons below allow you to access information by region. Information includes: refinery rules, incident reporting, hazardous materials programs, risk management plans, sheltering in-place, fenceline and community air monitoring, network and emergency response plans, refinery websites, etc.

Bay Area San Joaquin Valley Central Coast Southern California

 California Refineries: Interactive Map

This interactive map allows you to view refinery information and pertinent air monitoring data using Google Maps. Click on a refinery to see site information. On the Air Monitoring Stations overlay, you can select ARB and local Air District monitoring sites for current site-specific air quality data. Layers showing County or Air District boundaries may also be displayed.
- Refineries - Air Monitoring Stations

 ARB Response Plans and Reports

California Refineries Outreach Programs and Emergency Response Plans

add description
A 2003 overview of the California refining industry that provides a general characterization of processes, operations and throughputs for individual refineries, as well as detailed information on each refinery’s community outreach programs, community alert systems and emergency preparedness and response programs.

 Information by Region - Bay Area

 Information by Region - San Joaquin Valley

 Information by Region - Central Coast

 Information by Region - Southern California

 Other Helpful Information

General Information

General Refinery Monitoring Information

ARB List Serve for Refineries

  • If you would like to receive email updates on State refinery regulations, you can sign-up here.