New York-based Amerada Hess is a publicly traded company with operations throughout the world. It began in 1919 when Lord Cowdray, an English oil entrepreneur, established the company to explore for oil in the United States, Canada and Central America. In a short time, it had control of two subsidiaries, Goodrich Oil Company and Cameron Oil Company. It merged with its primary subsidiary in 1940 to become Amerada Petroleum Company. In 1969, Leon Hess engineered a stock takeover, and the company merged with Hess Oil and Chemical to become Amerada Hess. Now known as Hess Corporation, the company had 13,500 employees and sales of more than $41 million in 2008.
Port Reading, New Jersey, Refinery
Leon Hess built the oil refinery at Port Reading, New Jersey, in 1958. Today, Hess operates a fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) facility at Port Reading, just ten miles from New York City. The plant produces up to 65,000 BPD of high-quality gasolines and other fuel products, supplying Hess retail outlets, as well as industrial and residential customers, in the major metropolitan area. The plant was closed for a while in 1974 when Hess increased its refining capacity at its offshore plant in the Virgin Islands; 250 workers were laid off. In 1995, there was speculation that Hess might sell the plant.
Amerada Hess and Asbestos Litigation
Justia.com lists several asbestos litigation suits against Amerada Hess: 36 in 2007, 1 in 2009.
Asbestos in the Amerada Hess Oil Refinery at Port Reading, New Jersey
During most of the 20th century, the mineral called asbestos was chosen as an insulator when flames or extreme heat was a concern. Facilities such as the Amerada Hess oil refinery at Port Reading, New Jersey, therefore, were generally made using materials containing asbestos. Another property of certain kinds of asbestos is that they resist chemical reactions. As a result, asbestos was used in safety clothes, benches and coating materials. There is no doubt that asbestos was great at protecting against fire and excessive heat. This strength, however, came with a terrible cost in terms of human health.
Amosite was almost always the type of asbestos utilized in such facilities. When mixed with chrysotile, which is resistant to heat and bases but not as resistant to acids, the amphibole amosite creates materials that are especially good at preventing damage from corrosive substances. This amosite, in the form of asbestos-containing transite, was used in refineries and labs across the country for decades before being banned in building materials in the 1970s.
Asbestos transite could be sprayed onto pipes and ductwork and laminated just like cement could. As long as asbestos transite was solid, this form of asbestos posed little risk. As asbestos-containing transite ages and become prone to crumbling, however, deadly, microscopic fibers are able to flake off into the atmosphere. Asbestos in this condition is called friable, a term used for material that is easily pulverized. The insulation lining of industrial kilns also almost always contained friable asbestos.
Why Is Friable Asbestos a Problem?
Friable asbestos is dangerous because in this state the fibers can be easily dispersed in the atmosphere. When a person inhales these fibers, they can damage the lungs, resulting in asbestosis. Another uncommon, and generally lethal, asbestos-related disease is mesothelioma. The pleural variety of mesothelioma, one which attacks the lining between the lungs and the pleural cavity, is the most common. Peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma are caused by ingesting fibers of asbestos, which happens when microscopic particles float in the air and settle on food or in beverages.
Because research yielded increased knowledge of the risks of asbestos exposure, workers today enjoy the protection of stringent rules controlling how to use asbestos. When facilities such as the Amerada Hess Port Reading oil refinery were first operating, however, the use of asbestos was more commonplace. And even now, asbestos from the past may be the source of problems when it is mishandled during remodeling and demolition jobs.
The Lurking Danger of Asbestos
Asbestos-related diseases, as opposed to typical workplace injuries, which are easily observed and known about immediately following the causing incident, may take many, many years to develop. With such a lag between exposure and the appearance of the resulting disease, a worker might not even connect the current health problem with work he or she did 10 or more years ago. It is very important, therefore, that all that worked at or lived near oil refineries such as the Amerada Hess plant at Port Reading, New Jersey, ask their physicians for a mesothelioma treatment guide. Experimental methods for treating the disease are being developed, and mesothelioma cure could be found. Still, early detection provides patients the highest chance of beating the previously deathly form of cancer.Sources
Funding Universe - Amerada Hess Corporation
Hoovers - Key Hess Corporation Financials
Steve Koester - Hess' Twin Tactics: Play Island Against Island - Bypass U.S. Shipping Costs
Hess Corporation - 1999 Annual Report