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Texaco Oil Refinery Wyoming

The Texaco Oil Refinery was a large-scale and long-lived production facility located in Casper, Wyoming. Construction on the refinery was begun in 1922, and operations continued at the site until 1982 when a full shutdown occurred. The site is severely polluted, and efforts to contain contaminants are ongoing.

Texaco - Parent Company

Texaco began in 1901 as the Texas Fuel Company of Beaumont, Texas. It 1911, the company purchased the Red Star Oil Company and continued to expand operations. By 1928, the Texas Company (the corporate name) became the first US oil company to sell its gasoline in all the states of the Union.

The company was known as Texaco for most of its history until 2001, when the troubled corporation was purchased by Chevron, which had, in turn, been Standard Oil of California. The new entity was known as ChevronTexaco until May of 2005 when it dropped the Texaco name and became simply, "Chevron".

History of the Refinery

Texaco began to investigate possible locations for the construction of a refinery in Wyoming in 1921. Glenrock, Wyoming, campaigned for the company to bring the refinery to its location, but Casper eventually won out. In 1922, construction began on a 640-acre site three miles east of Casper on W. T. Evans' turkey ranch.

The plant went into production in 1923 and was in continuous operation until 1982, when it was shut down due to changing market needs, corporate restructuring and the growing realization that the required cleanup of pollution at the site would result in a loss of profitability.

The site was put up for sale in 1989, though without a bidder, the refinery was demolished. Today the site is a vacant lot under the control of the EPA and other contractors tasked with the ongoing cleanup process.

Asbestos in the Texaco Oil Refinery in Wyoming

In cases where extreme temperature or flame was a danger, the mineral called asbestos was the insulation preferred by builders during most of the 20th century. Materials made with asbestos, accordingly, were frequently utilized in the construction of chemical plants like the Texaco Oil Refinery in Wyoming. Resistance to reactive chemicals is perhaps a less well-known property of certain kinds of amphibole asbestos. Because of the nature of the work that goes on at chemical plants, asbestos, therefore, appeared not only in factory buildings, but also in work surfaces, safety garments and lab equipment. One of the ironic things with asbestos is that although it does very well at guarding against the damage done by high temperatures or fire - it is one of the most effective insulators known and has been used for this purpose throughout history - at the same time it poses serious risks to people's health.

Much of the asbestos was of the amosite variety. The brown pigment associated with amosite is a result of iron molecules in its chemical composition; this also causes amosite to be resistant to corrosive substances, such as those used in plants like the Casper, Wyoming, Texaco Oil Refinery. Although it was prohibited from use for construction purposes in the 1970s, amosite, in the form of asbestos-containing transite, was used for many years in chemical plants and labs across the country.

Asbestos transite had properties like cement; it could be laminated, molded into working surfaces and sprayed onto ductwork and pipes. This form of asbestos did not offer a health risk as long as it remained solid. As asbestos-containing transite grows older and become prone to crumbling, however, lethal, microscopic fibers can float into the air. That is, such asbestos is friable, or able to be pulverized by hand pressure alone. The insulation lining of industrial ovens also frequently contained friable asbestos.

Why Is Friable Asbestos Dangerous?

When friable, asbestos particles are easily released into the air. Diseases such as cancer and asbestosis are known to result from being exposed to airborne asbestos. In addition, exposure to asbestos is the leading causal factor of mesothelioma, a rare and all too often deadly cancer affecting the mesothelium, which is the lining between the lungs and the chest cavity. Pericardial and peritoneal mesothelioma are caused by ingesting fibers of asbestos, which happens when the microscopic particles become airborne and settle on food or in beverages.

Increased pressure from news media, activist groups and medical scientists forced the creation of regulations controlling the use of asbestos. When plants such as the Texaco Oil Refinery in Casper were constructed, however, asbestos was much more common. Before present-day regulations were put into place, workers frequently labored without protective equipment in environments where asbestos dust clouded the air.

Asbestos Exposure - a Hidden Danger

Asbestos cancer, in contrast to many on-the-job injuries, which are easily observed and known about soon after the incident, can take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to appear. When a former worker begins showing signs such as chronic coughing, dyspnea (i.e., shortness of breath) and chest pain, his or her doctor might not at first identify asbestos as the culprit, leading to a delay in diagnosis. Those that worked in or lived near places such as the Texaco Oil Refinery in Casper, Wyoming, therefore should inform their doctors about the chance of asbestos exposure. New treatments for mesothelioma are being developed, and early detection gives the patient the highest chance of overcoming the once deathly disease.

Sources

Sources

Trib.com - BP Amoco Timeline
http://trib.com/news/local/article_95dec472-b119-5f7d-8be3-740c6deaf8a1.html

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/EHSRM/ASB/acmimages3.html

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal
http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/EHSRM/HAZEXCEPTIONS/a.html

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