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Cause of Los Angeles-area refinery fire under investigation

Posted on Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 By The Associated Press


A fire burns after an explosion at the Marathon Refinery in Carson on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (Scott Varley/The Orange County Register via AP)

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — The cause of an explosion and fire at a Southern California refinery was under investigation Wednesday as air quality authorities conducted laboratory testing to determine whether any toxic gases were released.

No one was injured and there were no immediate indications that any toxic substances affected the community around the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Carson, authorities said.

It was not immediately clear whether the fire would push gasoline retail prices higher, as has happened after previous fires or unplanned shutdowns at California refineries.

The fire erupted late Tuesday night after an explosion in a cooling tower, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which assisted the refinery's own firefighters.

“Air monitoring is ongoing, and no risk to the community has been identified,” Marathon said in a statement.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District said the refinery has monitoring equipment installed around its perimeter and real-time data showed no elevated levels of gaseous toxic substances.

In addition, initial measurements showed levels of particulate matter were within the typical range for the area.

Nonetheless, inspectors from the agency collected air samples that were being tested for toxic substances such as benzene, tetrachloroethylene, toluene and styrene, the air quality district said.

Marathon's Carson refinery is the largest on the West Coast with a crude oil capacity of 363,000 barrels daily, according to the company’s website. It manufactures gasoline, diesel fuel, propane and other materials.

Marathon's statement said a portion of the refinery was shut down in response to the fire, but it gave no details.

The fire caused an immediate price spike on the gasoline trading market but that was quickly cut in half and the ultimate impact on pump prices was uncertain, an analyst said.

“It’s still possibly a little too early to tell what the impacts are going to be at the pump," said Denton Cinquegrana, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service, which monitors the global fuel supply industry.

“It sounds like as spectacular as the fire looked, a lot of the major operations may not have been impacted," he said.

Gasoline prices have been flat in California, where the statewide average was $3.48½, down 4 cents from last month, he said.

20 "Past Their Prime" Stocks to Dump From Your Portfolio

Did you know the S&P 500 as we know it today does not look anything close to what it looked like 30 years ago? In 1987, IBM, Exxon, GE, Shell, AT&T, Merck, Du Pont, Philip Morris, Ford and GM had the largest market caps on the S&P 500. ExxonMobil is the only company on that list to remain in the top 10 in 2017. Even just 15 years ago, companies like Radio Shack, AOL, Yahoo and Blockbuster were an important part of the S&P 500. Now, these companies no longer exist as public companies.

As the years go by, some companies lose their luster and others rise to the top of the markets. We've already seen this in the last few decades with tech companies surpassing industrial and energy companies that once dominated the S&P 500. It's hard to know what the next mega trend will be that will knock Apple, Google and Amazon off the top rankings of the S&P 500, but we do know that companies won't stay on the S&P 500 forever.

We've identified 20 companies that are past their prime. They aren't at risk of a near-term delisting from the S&P 500, but they are showing negative earnings growth for the next several years. If you own any of these stocks, consider selling them now before they become the next Yahoo, Radio Shack, Blockbuster, AOL and are sold off for a fraction of their former value.

View the "20 "Past Their Prime" Stocks to Dump From Your Portfolio".

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