TORRANCE (CBSLA.com) — Maureen Mauk and her family live about one mile from the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance.
“We knew that the refinery was here when we moved in, but ExxonMobil is not being a good neighbor right now,” said Mauk.READ MORE: Street Closures From Electrical Pole Fire In Redondo Beach Lifted
She and a growing group of moms who live in Torrance have banded together over concerns about what will happen when the refinery comes back online after an explosion closed it last year.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District or AQMD recently voted 3-2 to allow it to reopen and to release excessive carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants for the first six hours of operation.
“This is not something that should be treated lightly and the city of Torrance has actually taken the approach that, because the AQMD said it’s OK and they’ve given the blessing to go ahead, we have no reason to believe that there are any medical, health consequences,” she said.
But these moms aren’t buying it.
“PM2.5 is linked to pre-term birth. It’s linked to asthmatic conditions. It’s linked to all kinds of horrible things and 800 pounds is a lot to be released into the air,” said Catherine Leys, another Torrance resident.
Exxon released a statement that said:READ MORE: Lancaster Shooting Leaves One Wounded
“We will not speculate on operational details or timelines, but the stringent conditions associated with startup are designed to minimize impact to the community and the environment.”
The AQMD says it’s requiring the refinery to notify residents within a one-mile radius 48 hours prior to the startup. Also, it cannot happen during school or business hours and Exxon must conduct extensive air monitoring during that six-hour period.
“There is no way that I can in my heart know that this is going to come into the air and let my kids sit here and breathe it,” Mauk said.
Exxon won’t even discuss the issue of relocation, but most of the mothers say they’ll be taking their families out of town.
Mauk has started a Facebook page called FLARE to mobilize moms who share her concerns.
The group has nearly 500 members.MORE NEWS: Día De Los Muertos Celebrations and Others Return To LA
“I think we’re a very early movement and I think we’re finding out voice,” said Erin Shaw, another Torrance resident.