Questions and Answers

Addressing the Facts – and Myths – of the Rancho LPG terminal

Rancho is committed to maintaining safe operations. We meet regularly with elected officials, regulatory agencies, and neighborhood and community leaders to share information about the facility and help provide accurate information on our operations. 

The following questions and answers reflect common inquires we receive, as well as key pieces of information that have been misinterpreted or inaccurately presented.  

Q:       What is stored at the Gaffey Street facility?

A:       The facility stores butane and small amounts of propane, which are petroleum products commonly used in vehicles, barbeques and homes.

Q:       How big are the tanks at the facility?

A:       The facility includes two 12.5 million-gallon refrigerated tanks as well as five 60,000-gallon horizontal storage tanks.

Q:       When were the cold tanks built?

A:       The refrigerated tanks were constructed in 1973/1974. The tanks were constructed to meet all applicable engineering standards and building codes.

Q:       Is the design of the tanks outdated?

A:      The technology utilized to construct storage tanks today has changed very little from when the Rancho tanks were constructed. The double-walled cold tanks were constructed on site by a leading refrigerated tank manufacturer which is still in business today. Since our purchase of the facility, we've maintained robust mechanical integrity programs to ensure these standards are maintained. 

Q:       Is the facility safe?

A:       We consider safety a top priority that is integral to sustaining our operations. The facility has not had a significant release or event in its 38-year history. We perform regular, planned maintenance at the facility to help ensure all components remain in compliance with applicable regulations.

Q:       Since the cold tanks aren’t pressurized, how does the gas stay in liquid form?

A:       The nature of LPG is such that when it’s cooled, it enters a liquid state. Vapors at less than one pound per square inch gauge (psig) are drawn from a top vapor line on the low-pressure cold tanks and travel to multi-stage compressors. After passing through the compressors, the vapors are cooled, causing them to return to a liquid phase, then directed back to the cold tanks.  This process is repeated in a continuous cycle.

Q:       How many workers are employed at Rancho?

A:       The facility is staffed 24/7 by experienced employees who are members of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 26. For safety and security reasons, we don’t share the number of employees. 

Q:       Is Rancho LPG located in a tsunami inundation zone?

A:       No. The Rancho LPG Gaffey Street facility is located outside any tsunami hazard zone, and this information can be confirmed on the California Emergency Management Agency (CALEMA) public website.

Q:       Is Rancho LPG located on a fault line or on land subject to liquefaction?

A:       No. The facility is situated outside an earthquake fault zone or the Alquist-Priolo fault zone.  This can be confirmed on the California Emergency Management Agency (CALEMA) website. The facility is designed with appropriate seismic consideration and complies with all regulatory requirements regarding seismic-related issues.  Third-party geotechnical testing and review has confirmed the Rancho site is not liquefiable.

Q:      Does Rancho have a risk management plan or risk analysis?

A:       As part of its regular operating requirements, Rancho has a Risk Management Plan on file with the EPA. This is a public document that community members can request to review through the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Q:      Is it true that the potential impact zone of an incident at Rancho is 6.7 miles?  

A:       No. A recent risk analysis conducted by a leading engineering firm indicated that the maximum impact of a hazard at the Rancho facility is 700 feet, with all other potential scenarios being much less than that.

Q:      Is Rancho considered “ultrahazardous?”

A:       No. The facility has never been declared “ultrahazardous” by any regulatory agency.  Butane is the common product found in cigarette lighters.

Q:      Who oversees the Rancho facility?

A:       The Rancho facility is regulated by at least nine local, state, and federal agencies, including California Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Toxic Substance Control, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation Department of Public Works and Los Angeles County Certified Unified Program Agency. 

Q:      What do these agencies think of Rancho?

A:       In 2011, 14 audits of the facility were conducted, including a surprise multi-agency audit in May. Through June 2012,  14 agency inspections have been performed.  Rancho has consistently shown to be in compliance with the applicable regulations.

Q:      When will Rancho conduct its next drill?

A:       The Rancho LPG facility and the employees who work there take safety and emergency preparedness very seriously. We continue to meet all applicable state and federal regulations pertaining to emergency response plans and training required for an LPG facility. Rancho’s emergency preparedness involves ensuring our employees understand the facility’s emergency response plan, review it regularly and are able to implement it during an incident. In addition, we have and will continue to collaborate with local responders to develop responses to various scenarios that could occur at the facility to ensure preparedness and coordination among the various organizations. As a method of compliance with the federal Process Safety Management requirement for emergency planning, Rancho LPG may also conduct emergency preparedness exercises from time to time. No exercises are currently scheduled. When an exercise is scheduled, we will notify and invite the local emergency response stakeholders to participate.