The Texaco Oil Refinery (since renamed several times and currently the Shell Puget Sound Refinery) is an oil refinery on Fidalgo Bay in the Puget Sound at Anacortes, Washington. The facility opened in 1958 and continues to operate today.
History and Facts
The refinery was opened by Texaco (the Texas Company) in 1958 with a total production capacity of 45,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Texaco operated the refinery for 40 years, undertaking several modernizations that resulted in a current refining capacity of 145,000 barrels of crude daily. The facility currently employs approximately 400 employees and 250 contract workers.
Mergers and Name Changes
In January 1998, Texaco and Shell created a joint venture called Equilon. Equilon joined together the refining operations of both Texaco and Shell on the West Coast, and also merged transportation, lubricants and retail operations. During this time, the refinery was renamed Equilon Oil Refinery.
In October 2001, a new merger took place - this time between Chevron (a company formerly known as Standard Oil of California) and Texaco. This newly merged company was called ChevronTexaco, and it ran afoul of federal regulators. Because Chevron had a strong presence on the US West Coast, the new merger would be considered a monopoly, so ChevronTexaco was forced to divest its interests in Equilon. Shell, the Equilon partner company, bought back Texaco's interest in Equilon, including the Equilon Refinery at Anacortes.
The refinery was renamed the Shell Puget Sound Refinery.
One interesting thing to note is that there are two refineries on March's Point. The former Texaco Refinery (now Shell Puget Sound Refinery) and the Tesoro Refinery, which was formerly the Shell Refinery. After all of the mergers and sales that occurred between Chevron, Texaco, Shell and Equilon, to an uniformed observer, the result was simply that the Shell Oil sign moved from one refinery to the refinery next door.
Chemical Plants and Asbestos
During the majority of the 20th century, whenever combustion or excessive heat was a concern, various forms of asbestos were chosen as a building material. As a result, it was usual for chemical plants like the Texaco Oil Refinery in Anacortes to be made with materials made with asbestos. One of the other properties of certain types of the fibrous mineral is that they resist chemical reactions. As a result, asbestos was utilized in protective clothing, lab equipment and bench and counter tops. There is little question that asbestos was superb at safeguarding against high heat and combustion. This strength, however, came with a terrible cost in terms of human health.
Amosite was often the variety of asbestos utilized in such locations. Amosite is one of the amphibole varieties of asbestos and is commonly considered more apt to result in disease than serpentine asbestos. This amosite, in the form of asbestos-containing transite, was utilized in laboratories and chemical plants throughout the US for many years before it was banned for construction purposes in the 1970s.
Like cement, asbestos transite could be molded into working surfaces, laminated and sprayed onto ductwork and pipes. This form of asbestos did not pose a health hazard so long as it stayed solid. With age, however, transite with asbestos-containing material (ACM) grows prone to becoming powdery, allowing tiny fibers to float into the atmosphere. When it is in this state, it is considered friable, a term that is used for material that is easy to pulverize. Industrial kilns also often were constructed with friable asbestos in insulation linings.
Why Is Friable Asbestos Dangerous?
When friable, asbestos particles are easily released into the air. Medical conditions such as cancer and asbestosis are known to result from breathing asbestos. In addition, exposure to asbestos is known to be the leading causal factor of mesothelioma, a rare but almost always deadly disease affecting the mesothelium, which is the tissue that lies between the lungs and the chest cavity. Swallowing asbestos fibers, which may occur when those tiny fibers enter the air and fall on food or drinks, can result in pericardial or peritoneal mesothelioma.
Increased pressure from the press and researchers led to laws regulating the use of asbestos. The use of asbestos was much more common, however, when the Texaco Oil Refinery was built. And even now, asbestos from long ago can cause problems when it is not properly contained during demolition and remodeling jobs.
The Hidden Hazard of Asbestos
Unlike most workplace injuries, which are readily observed and known about soon after the incident, asbestos cancer may take many, many years to develop. It can also be hard to identify asbestos-related ailments because the symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other, less serious disorders. Accordingly, it is very important for folks who worked in or spent much time around sites like the Anacortes Texaco Oil Refinery to tell their health care professionals about the possibility of asbestos exposure. Experimental therapies for mesothelioma are being discovered, and early detection gives the patient the highest chance of overcoming the previously always-fatal disease.Sources
Shell Puget Sound - Who We Are
Texaco - About Texaco: Facts and Figures
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal