TORRANCE ( — Two state Senate committees met Thursday night in Torrance to discuss the recent Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery explosion.

The joint hearing at Torrance City Hall included members of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and the Environmental Quality Committee.

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Outside the meeting to discuss the Feb. 18 blast, California refinery workers stood and demonstrated their concern about on-the-job safety issues, according to KCAL9’s Dave Bryan.

As Bryan reports, they charge that many refinery accidents across the country are the result of extreme fatigue and poor decisions which can have catastrophic consequences. All, they allege, are because of long hours on-the-job and no chance to rest.

“Working like more than 16 hours or more than 12 hours. It’s fatigue,” said one man, while another stated: “You make one wrong move, you input one wrong set point, and that can lead to catastrophic events. We’ve got to be sharp at all times.”

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Najmedin Meshkati, a professor at USC and expert in complex safety issues, says the Torrance refinery explosion raises many safety questions that must be answered.

“I think these are the issues that I, in my experience, am very interested to look into that — the issue of staffing, management of change, worker’s fatigue and cumulative fatigue and also the equipment integrity,” he said.

Ten Lieu, a local congressman, said during the state Senate hearing that he’ll be asking a federal chemical safety board to investigate the refinery explosion.

“If you look at the data, the United States has far more refinery accidents than Europe at a rate of three or four times higher and this, to me, is not just a local problem and not just a state problem, but it’s also a national problem,” Lieu (D-Torrance) said.

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The explosion last month injured several people and caused the plant to shutdown, which spiked gas prices statewide.