Despite flames towering nearly 20 feet in the air, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will not be investigating the Tuesday night explosion and fire at the 363,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Carson, California, an agency spokesperson said Thursday.
“The agency followed up and evaluated the incident and determined it did not raise to the level of an incident we will deploy to at this time,” CSB spokesperson Hillary Cohen told Industrial Fire World.
According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, an explosion in a cooling tower at the Marathon Petroleum refinery rocked the facility about 10:50 p.m, soon followed by flames visible from nearly 20 miles away.
As a precaution, the department recommended that residents in the area stay indoors and keep windows closed. With the refinery depressurized, the residual fuel all but burned out by the next morning.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. In its 20-year history the agency has deployed investigators to more than 130 chemical incidents, issuing recommendations for improvement across a wide variety of industries.
Thirteen investigations listed as active on the CSB website include:
- A January 24 explosion and fire at Watson Grinding in Houston that killed two workers and caused extensive damage to the surrounding neighborhood.
- A November 2019 Thanksgiving Eve explosion and fire at a Port Neches, Texas, chemical plant that prompted a citywide evacuation.
- A June 2019 refinery vapor cloud explosion and fire at a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, refinery that released 5,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid.
- A March 2019 explosion and fire at the Intercontinental Terminal Company in Deer Park, Texas, that spread flames through 11 above ground storage tanks containing flammable hydrocarbons.
Marathon’s website states that the refinery is the largest on the U.S. West Coast. It manufactures gasoline and diesel fuel, along with distillates, petroleum coke, anode-grade coke, chemical-grade propylene, fuel-grade coke, heavy fuel oil, and propane.