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

SBCCOG Takes a Bite Out of Torrance Budget

Tomorrow evening the City Council will determine whether to approve a $132,025 payment to the South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG). The payment is to cover membership dues for the next three fiscal years. The breakout by year is $41,464 for 2017-18, $43,959 for 2018-19, and $46,603 for 2019-20.

The SBCCOG Board of Directors approved a 6% annual dues increase on June 22, 2017. The increased dues payments owed by the City of Torrance are reflective of that increase. The stated purpose of the dues increase is in order to grow the SBCCOG’s reserves.

The SBCCOG is a joint powers authority established in 1994 that comprises 16 local cities. The mission and vision of the SBCCOG is to improve the quality of life and maximize the productivity of the South Bay region through local government collaboration.

According to the staff report, the City of Torrance has been an active member of the SBCCOG and has taken a leadership role on regional issues such as improving transportation and infrastructure, sustainability, green environmental initiatives, homelessness and livable communities, legislative issues, as well as strengthening economic development.

The staff report did not list any specific initiatives or achievements that the City of Torrance was able to accomplish due to their involvement with the SBCCOG.

Kim Fuentes is the #2 ranking staff member of the SBCCOG currently serving as its Deputy Executive Director. Fuentes is a familiar face at City Hall due to a longstanding contract she holds with the City of Torrance providing Rideshare Consultant services. That contract pays her $65,000 a year for her part-time assistance. Torrance City Councilman Kurt Weideman also currently serves as Chair of the SBCCOG.

Should the City of Torrance not approve the membership dues payment, it would likely put Torrance’s membership in the organization at risk.

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