Stop the Gas Station Project in Old Torrance – Guest Commentary from Citizens Group “I Love Old Torrance”

Tower Energy wants to build a huge Gas Station/Mini-Mart that sells Beer, Wine, Cigarettes, Fried Chicken (cooked on site), and, eventually, Hard Liquor.  Location is on Carson between Gramercy & Andreo, in the middle of original Torrance, across from Historic Downtown, NOT at a major intersection, near THS.  Proposed Hours: 365 days a year, 5:00am – 11:30pm.

Reasons to Protest:

Traffic Congestion:  If you travel on Carson, a project of this size will increase your commute time.  Carson is already a heavily congested street, especially during key times each day, and whenever there is a train.  This will make it worse for everyone that travels on Carson including nearby schools, churches, businesses, emergency services, and neighbors.

Increased Traffic on small residential side streets and alleys:  These narrow streets and alleys are NOT designed for heavy, speeding traffic.  This project will send much traffic into our neighborhoods.  We will lose much street parking, too.

Narrow Streets:  Our streets are old and narrow.  There is not room for gasoline tankers or delivery trucks.  There is not even room for 2 cars going in opposite directions to pass each other.  One car must pull to the side in order for the other to pass.  Only locals know that.  How often will there be two cars “stuck” until one of them backs up?

More cars moving at higher speeds on side streets and alleys will lead to property loss and potential loss of life: Our sidewalks are filled with children playing, dogs being walked, and people exercising.  Drivers speeding through our neighborhood will see our streets as thoroughfares. Most will NOT be mindful that this is a neighborhood.  Sooner or later a speeding car will collide with a child, a bicyclist, another car, etc.   This is a great liability for the City, too.

We already have plenty of established gas stations, liquor stores, and mini marts in the area, plus a large Ralphs nearby.

Irresponsible drivers, including those under the influence, will increase.

Gas Pumps, Underground Storage Tanks, Fumes, and Leaks are all hazards which exponentially increase the risk for explosions, fires, and many environmental & health issues.  We have multiple cancer survivors in the immediate vicinity.

This is a historic area with many unique 100 year old plus houses and businesses.  These are the foundation of Torrance’s unique history.  All nearby structures (old and new) will be put at risk if Tower’s project is approved.

Backwards “Progress”: Torrance has installed electric charging stations throughout the city.  Why go backwards and approve a new fossil fuel gas station?  A new gas station comes with many short term and long term risks, along with hazards that will be around long after the last fossil fuel car leaves the road.  Many countries and 8 states including CA have already banned the sales of fossil fuel vehicles.  Bans range from 2025 – 2050, depending on the Country/State.

Crime increases and Loitering increases at Gas Stations and places that sell alcohol “to go”.  Tower says they won’t let vagrants linger on their property, which will push them onto our properties.

The current site is peaceful, dark, and quiet at night.  Tower’s plan, with operating hours from 5am – 11:30pm, 365 days a year will bring significant noise and light pollution, as well as the smell of Fried Chicken every day!

Accidents will increase on both Carson and side streets, which will cause further congestion from emergency vehicles.

Issue will be discussed by the Planning Commission at its upcoming meeting on September 20, 2017 at 7 pm.

Lack of City Action Prompts Movement to Save Miramar Park Dolphin via Private Donations

Dolphin at Miramar Park

After more than 180 days in captivity, the Dolphin at Miramar Park has been rescued. At least, that’s the message proclaimed by Brian Diederich via a gofundme page established today seeking private donations to replace the rubber surface beneath the statue.

According to Diederich, Jody and Jamie Davis from The Rosalie Ellen Company have already provided a very generous commitment to fund the repair and refurbishment of the iconic dolphin statue and that it is now “up to us, the locals, to finish the job.”

In a post appearing on the Nextdoor website, Diederich initially claimed that the City of Torrance didn’t have the money to fix the statue and that he was in charge of the private fundraising effort. In a later post, he backed off his claim that the City didn’t have the money explaining he took action because he did not want this project to get tied up in red tape and become a political issue.

The posting on the gofundme page claims that the “City of Torrance spent countless hours researching archives and making numerous phone calls to find the original dolphin manufacturer but was unsuccessful. The City knew it was time to reach out to the community.”

Deiderich did not respond to an inquiry soliciting whether he is acting in an official capacity with the City and it is not clear from the gofundme site whether the City of Torrance approves of the fundraising effort. That could be an issue as the City will ultimately have to approve any modifications made to the park.

A chain link fence that has surrounded the dolphin for the past 6 months was recently replaced with orange cones and caution tape.

As of this writing, the gofundme site had raised $560 of the needed $9,850.

TRAA Response to Refinery Workshop; Guest Commentary by Sally Hayati

Dear Mayor Furey:

Thank you for hosting the Torrance CC Refinery Workshop on August 5th on a weekend to provide extra time.  We suggest a more interactive workshop would be useful in the future, to include a limited duration Q&A period after each presentation.  For example, Dr. Philip Fine of the AQMD made a slip of the tongue, saying “HF” was vented to the flare, instead of H2.  Because this error could cause misunderstanding in audience members, after Dr. Fine finished speaking Dr. Jim Eninger raised his hand in a polite attempt to advise him. But you swiftly silenced Dr. Eninger. A brief clarification could have avoided possible alarm.  Requiring community members to use comment time for questions is not optimal for fostering a meaningful public engagement. Dr. David Hannum’s question during his public comment would have gone unanswered if not for Councilman Herring’s intercession.

At the Workshop’s end you responded to public comments by declaring the city won’t act based on “rhetorical statements, attacks, and word of mouth.” Not one council member spoke up to publicly counter this dismissive assessment of concerned and informed citizens.  The anger heard from a few individuals at the workshop comes from valid concerns, aggravated by the city’s lack of response and promotion of discredited safety claims made by the refinery for modified hydrofluoric acid (MHF). Your continued declarations that the 1990 Torrance-Mobil Consent Decree binds the city’s hands and that Torrance (being merely a city) is helpless to act are wholly unconvincing.  Even the Consent Decree Safety Advisor acknowledged an earthquake could cause a MHF release and the simultaneous failure of mitigation systems (page 41, 1995 report). Even the refinery’s lowball official EPA report acknowledges a 3.2-mile path of serious and irreversible injuries possible from a 5,200 lb. release. The City of Richmond developed its own refinery regulations, but Torrance so far refuses even to throw its support behind AQMD PR 1410 and AB 1645 to ban MHF alkylation at the refinery or to prepare the community for an accidental MHF release.

TRAA’s case against MHF is built on solid scientific evidence, which is why the Norton report and the conclusions of investigations by the US EPA, US Chemical Safety Board, and AQMD are consistent with our conclusions.  The experts have spoken. The EPA acknowledged MHF RMP reports significantly understate community risk and declared that MHF mitigation is not permissible for a worst-case release report (http://bit.ly/2o4fKGj). I am on the AQMD PR 1410 Working Group, which was recently told staff’s “initial conclusion” on MHF (as I said in public comments) is that MHF must go. See page 5 of the attached briefing, posted on the AQMD website (http://bit.ly/2wBHeUh).  

The Greater South Bay was told the dangers of HF alkylation had been all but eliminated in 1997 in Torrance and 2007 in LA at the Valero, Wilmington refinery.  But the risk posed by MHF alkylation is identical to that of HF alkylation. A release of 50,000 lb. MHF from a single tank could result in 16-mile path of serious and irreversible injuries. Failure by the City to act responsibly in the face of scientific facts and evidence regarding the known impact of an MHF release on the citizens, businesses, and workers in Torrance and surrounding cities leaves the City open to fiscally disastrous lawsuits and legal claims.  Relying on self-interested and unsupported assurances of the refinery, discredited by the EPA, the AQMD, and independent experts, doesn’t satisfy the City’s duty to its constituents. 

It is vitally important Torrance pass a resolution in support of AQMD and legislative efforts to ban MHF alkylation and plan and practice drills for MHF emergency preparedness. The AQMD Board needs all the support it can get to act on its staff’s recommendation.

Sincerely,
Sally Hayati, Ph.D.
President,
Torrance Refinery Action Alliance (TRAA)
REFERENCE: Sally Hayati, The Case Against MHF, in Brief, http://bit.ly/2wYarZQ
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