Several months ago my office coordinated a special meeting of the Public Safety Committee to discuss the safety of the Rancho LPG facility and similar petroleum storage and refinery facilities in my district. I wanted to address community concerns about the perceived level of danger about having so many petroleum facilities in close proximity to our homes, neighbors, and families.
At the end of the meeting, we asked the Chief Legislative Analyst - the CLA - to issue a report on what measures are currently in place to ensure public safety, who is responsible for inspections at Liquid Bulk Storage sites, and what recommendations they could offer to improve the standards that are already in place.
It has been my intention from the start to focus this fact-finding process on not just one facility, but to include all refinery and storage facilities in the Harbor Area and around the City.
After months of research, meetings with various City departments, and close coordination with my office; the CLA has issued a report on the safety and oversight of the Rancho LPG facility.
The report summarizes the history of the Rancho facility, what materials are stored there how they are contained, and the role that the two primary City agencies tasked with inspection and oversight - Los Angeles Fire Department and Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, play in ensuring City, State, and Federal regulations are being followed.
As noted in the report, the LAFD and Building and Safety are required by state law to perform state and City inspections at least once every one to three years. LAFD inspects Rancho LPG once a year, not including surprise inspections. LAFD is responsible for monitoring compliance with City, state, and federal regulations, reviewing all Risk Management Plans, and for training and preparation for any potential emergency at this location.
The LAFD is responsible for safety inspections at Rancho and 49 similar facilities in Los Angeles.
The report makes two key recommendations to improve both public safety and public awareness.
1. The LAFD should focus on improving public awareness of their inspections, and reports should be summarized in an easy-to-understand format and posted online.
2. LAFD and Building and Safety should coordinate with State and Federal agencies and needs to publicly report all inspection results and/or any reported violations of safety standards.
These reports, along with many other documents related to Rancho LPG -- going back to the permitting and construction of this facility -- are posted on my website at LA15th.com/wiki or Click on WIKI in the upper right hand corner of my home page.
I understand the frustrations of those concerned about safety; or that information doesn’t get out there fast enough or is not easy to digest.
I can also appreciate your wish to simply move these tanks. But, we must remember that this is private property and not owned by the City OR the Port.
It reminds me of situations that I used to deal with when I worked as a Senior Lead Officer in LAPD.
I recall getting complaints from residents about nuisance neighbors, citing what they considered to be loud or obnoxious behavior.
What I learned then, as I have learned now, is that just because you don’t like your neighbor or the things they may do, it doesn’t mean you can force them to move.
As outlined in the reports and past motions on this issue, there is no way to legally compel this facility to relocate without finding the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to purchase their property.
LA and City Departments have been diligently investigating what existing laws and inspections protocols are in place, how we can make them better, and most important of all; let the public know what is being done to keep Rancho and other facilities as safe as we can and share that information in the most effective and understandable way possible.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on the City Council to implement the recommendations in this report and give the public greater insight into what steps are taken to keep them safe.
I live nearby and I have many friends and family nearby. I will do everything in my power to make sure that all of these tanks are safe and that those of us who live nearby will be safe too. This is a difficult and complicated issue.
While I wish I could just pick them up and move them and turn all of this land into open space or traditional office buildings, it just is not that simple. I will continue to turn every rock and look for any viable option to ensure our happiness and safety. You have my word.