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HomeAsbestos ExposureAsbestos CompaniesAtlantic Richfield Company

The Atlantic Richfield Company, commonly referred to as ARCO for short, was created in 1966 through the merger of two companies—Atlantic Refining and Richfield Petroleum.

Founded in 1866 in Pennsylvania, Atlantic Refining originated as a company with a focus on shipping and storing oil, only to find itself venturing into the business of oil refining shortly after its inception. Within a decade of its founding, Atlantic Refining was acquired by Standard Oil Trust under the leadership of John D. Rockefeller. This acquisition positioned Atlantic to the forefront of its market with its motor oil becoming one of the most recognized brands of its kind in the country.

Atlantic Richfield Company – Company History

In 1905, thirty-nine years after the founding of Atlantic Refining, Richfield Oil was established on the West Coast where it quickly earned a reputation as a leading marketer of gasoline.

The year 1911 witnessed the demise of Standard Oil allowing Atlantic to once again be its own company. By 1915, Atlantic opened its first service station in Pittsburgh and planted roots with office space in Dallas’s first skyscraper. Similarly, Richfield opened a service station in Los Angeles in 1917 followed by the construction of an office tower to house the company in the same city in the 1920s.

In the following years leading up to the merger in 1966, Richfield established itself as a leading provider of high-octane fuels while Atlantic employed seismic technology to seek out a large oil field in Texas.

Two years following the merger (1968), Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) took part in the largest oil discovery in United States history—Prudhoe Bay. In addition to this discovery, a series of mergers and acquisitions throughout the course of the next decade contributed to ARCOs growth, expanded its network of chemical plants, refineries, and pipelines, and furthered its reach into natural resources(through the acquisition of the Anaconda Mining Company).

With the turn of the century, ARCO joined the BP group. By this time, ARCO had withdrawn from the East Coast market and continued to maintain a strong presence on the West Coast.

Products Manufactured by Atlantic Richfield Company that Contained Asbestos

While ARCO did not manufacture products containing asbestos, it did employ the use of such products, mainly with regard to the company’s pipelines. Documents cite the discovery of asbestos fibers in the mastic used to secure pipeline insulation.

Among the products used by ARCO (specifically pertaining to the company’s pipelines used to transport petroleum products) that may have contained asbestos include, but are not limited to:

  • Mastic
  • Insulation materials
  • Gaskets
  • Asbestos paper

Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

With regard to ARCO, pipefitters and those who worked in close proximity to pipefitters are considered to be a high-risk group for asbestos-related diseases resulting from the concentration, duration, and frequency of their exposure. Prior to the 1980s, asbestos was the material of choice for insulating pipes due to its attributes of exceptional resistance to heat, fire and chemicals. While the greatest risk of contracting an asbestos-related illness results from the release and inhalation of asbestos fibers. Pipefitters were placed at a particularly high risk of exposure in their profession as the asbestos materials that they used were often required to be cut, ground, and sanded in order to achieve precise fits to meet the size specifications of the pipeline systems.

A recent documented court case (filed in May 2010) cites the claim of an individual employed as a pipefitter from 1972-1985 who alleges that he was exposed to asbestos through his occupation and in turn, was diagnosed with lung cancer as a result of his exposure.

Individuals employed as pipefitters, or individuals who may have resided with a pipefitter and suffered secondhand exposure from contact with this individual or the individual’s dust laden clothing, should contact a doctor as soon as possible to report their exposure history. Due to the extended latency period, often 20 years or more, from the time of initial exposure to the presentation of symptoms, it is important to be proactive in the detection of asbestos-related diseases in order to outline the most effective course of treatment available.

Recent News

BP reported involvement in legal proceedings resulting from past operations including allegations by third parties with regard to exposures to toxic substances, such as asbestos. BP believes that these proceedings will not have a significant impact on the company’s operations or financial position.

According to BP’s annual report, as of December 31, 2010, the company employed 79,700 individuals and reported sales and operating revenues of $297.1 billion. Since joining the BP group in 2000, ARCO remains the leading brand of gasoline in the western United States.

Written By

Tara Strand Senior Content Writer

Tara Strand specializes in researching and writing about asbestos, raising awareness and advocating for a ban.

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Reviewed By

Jennifer Lucarelli Legal Advisor and Contributor

Jennifer Lucarelli is a partner at the law firm of Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney & Meisenkothen, specializing in asbestos litigation.

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