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Metropolitan Digest / LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS IN BRIEF

TORRANCE : Leaky Pipe Flange Identified as Probable Source of Blast

October 22, 1994

Investigators have pinpointed a leaky pipe flange as the probable source of a gas explosion and fire at the Mobil refinery in Torrance that injured 28 workers, but they are still trying to determine exactly what ignited the gas.

Meanwhile, seven workers who were injured in the Wednesday afternoon incident remain hospitalized, most with burns or inhalation injuries. Almost all of the injured were employed by contracting companies doing work at the refinery.

The explosion occurred in an area of liquid petroleum gas pipes that had recently been worked on by construction crews. Once the gas escaped from the flange--a collar that connects two pieces of pipe--it may have been ignited by a heater or an electrical connection, said Chief Kennith Hall of the Torrance Fire Department.

Other investigators from the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Mobil, as well as a private safety consultant, also are looking into the blaze.

The refinery is continuing to operate. Despite the accident, Mobil is planning to hold one of its regularly scheduled "open houses" at the plant today to allow visitors to see how the refinery operates. A Mobil spokesman said up to 500 people are expected to attend.

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