A massive blast at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance left four workers with minor injuries on Feb. 18. The explosion happened at around 8:50 a.m.

The official cause of the incident is not yet known, but an unnamed source said workers at the West 190th Street plant were performing maintenance on a fluid catalytic cracking unit when a nearby electrostatic precipitator exploded, causing a multistory building to partially collapse. The blast activated the refinery’s safety flare system, shooting flames into the sky. Nearly 50 firefighters from the Torrence Fire Department and surrounding cities responded to the scene. They quickly extinguished a small fire in a gasoline processing unit that started as a result of the accident.

The explosion was so powerful it registered on a seismometer at nearby Caltech, showing a reading equal to that of a minor earthquake. The rumbling caused broken windows and other minor damage to neighboring homes. Authorities said air quality testing showed normal readings, but the South Coast AQMD issued a smoke advisory for local residents as a safety precaution. Four workers suffered undisclosed injuries and were taken to a local hospital. One worker was kept for observation, but the other three were treated and released.

Most employees who suffer a workplace injury are eligible to file a workers’ compensation benefits claim. These benefits provide compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs and a portion of any wages lost during recovery. Unfortunately, employers and insurance companies sometimes reject or delay rightful workers’ compensation claims. Those whose claims have been denied may wish to avail themselves of legal representation during the appeals process.

Source: KTLA, “Torrance ExxonMobil refinery rocked by large explosion; earthquake-like shaking reported”, Tracy Bloom, Melissa Pamer, Christina Pascucci, Erin Myers and Mary Beth McDade, Feb. 18, 2015