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California refinery explodes, four injured

A Feb. 18 explosion at ExxonMobil's Torrance refinery caused area residents to wonder if there had been an earthquake. It also resulted in minor injuries to four workers. The 8:50 a.m. incident demanded the attention of nearly 50 firefighters because of a ground blaze. The explosion also activated a safety system that launched flares into the air.

Reports indicate that gasoline played a role in the explosion and fire, which occurred in a processing unit. However, the officials did not clearly identify the cause during the initial day of investigation. The community's air tested within normal air quality ranges although a smoke advisory was initiated. The explosion's severity was equivalent to an earthquake with a 1.7 magnitude based on area seismological readings.

Residents were affected by ash falling on vehicles and in the streets, and some noted that building damages occurred. At the refinery, two vehicles were destroyed. The building in which the explosion occurred was severely damaged, having collapsed in part. All employees were accounted for, and those who suffered injuries were transported to an area medical center for treatment.

An employee who works in a hazardous job may be familiar with safety protocol and emergency procedures. However, accidents may still happen in spite of careful work habits. If an employee is injured on the job, it is important to seek prompt medical treatment. As soon as practical, workplace injuries should be officially documented and reported to the appropriate personnel at work. In most cases, employees are covered by workers' compensation insurance carried by the employer. Although this coverage is intended to address costs incurred for medical care and lost work time, there are instances in which an insurer might deny a claim. In such a case, legal representation could be important.

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

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