Resources for Patients and their Families

BP Amoco Ohio

Standard Oil of Ohio, one of pioneers in the oil industry, was started in Cleveland in 1870 by John D. Rockefeller. He paid $1 million cash. Two years later, Standard Oil controlled 21 of Cleveland's 26 refineries, as well as major refineries in New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. By 1878, Rockefeller controlled 80 to 90 percent of the oil industry, but not for long. In 1911, the US Supreme Court found Standard Oil in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which forbids industry monopolies. Rockefeller was forced to break up the Standard Oil Company, and Rockefeller's territory was limited to the state of Ohio. In 1928, the company officially took the name, Sohio.

Located on the west side of Toledo, a new refinery started up in 1919. It's been in operation ever since and has been through numerous expansions and remodeling. It currently processes 125,600 barrels of crude oil every day and is the 56th-largest refinery in the United States.

In 1969, Sohio acquired the BP Corp., the US subsidiary of British Petroleum, in exchange for oil leases on Alaska's North Slope. By 1984, the shoe was on the other foot: BP now owned 55 percent of Sohio and soon took over the rest of the stock. Sohio disappeared into the BP empire in 1987. Canada-based Husky Energy acquired a half-share interest in the Toledo refinery in 2007.

Oil Refineries and Asbestos

Whenever combustion or extreme temperature was a concern, asbestos was the insulation preferred by builders in much of the last century. Asbestos-containing materials, therefore, were commonly utilized in the building of petroleum facilities such as the BP Amoco Refinery in Toledo, Ohio. Resistance to chemical reactions is perhaps a less well-known property of various types of amphibole asbestos. Given the nature of the work that occurs at oil refineries, asbestos, therefore, appeared not only in factory buildings, but also in coating materials, safety clothes and counter tops. There is no question that asbestos was great at protecting against high heat and fire. This strength, however, was accompanied by a terrible cost in terms of human health.

Amosite was often the variety of asbestos utilized in such facilities. The brown tint associated with amosite is a result of iron in its chemical makeup; this also makes amosite resistant to acidic substances, such as those manufactured in facilities like the Toledo BP Amoco Refinery. Although it was prohibited from use in building materials in the 1970s, this amosite, in the form of asbestos transite, was used for decades in oil refineries, labs and chemical plants across the United States.

Like cement, asbestos transite could be sprayed onto pipes and ductwork and molded into working surfaces. As long as asbestos transite remained solid, this form of asbestos posed little hazard. Tiny fibers of asbestos are released into the atmosphere, however, as asbestos-containing transite ages and becomes prone to crumbling. In this state, it is considered friable, which translates to easily pulverized. In addition, laboratory and chemical plant kilns often contained friable asbestos as part of their insulation linings.

Why Is Friable Asbestos a Problem?

When friable, asbestos particles are readily dispersed in the environment. Medical conditions such as cancer and asbestosis can result from inhaling asbestos. Another unusual, and generally deadly, asbestos-related disease is mesothelioma. The pleural form of mesothelioma, which attacks the lining between the lungs and the chest cavity, is the most common. When the particles of asbestos in the air settle on food or in beverages and are subsequently ingested, peritoneal or pericardial mesothelioma can result, though they are less common than pleural mesothelioma.

Since research yielded a better knowledge of the risks of asbestos exposure, employees today benefit from the protection offered by strict guidelines regulating the use of asbestos. The use of asbestos was more prevalent, however, when most oil refineries were built. And even now, asbestos from the past can cause danger if it is disturbed during demolition and remodeling jobs.

Asbestos Exposure - a Hidden Danger

Asbestos-related diseases, in contrast to most on-the-job injuries, which are readily observed and known about soon after the incident, may take many, many years to appear. With such a lag between exposure and the onset of symptoms, a worker may not connect the current health problem with work he or she did up to 40 years earlier. People who worked in or spent much time around facilities like the BP Amoco Refinery in Toledo, Ohio, should ask their physicians for a mesothelioma treatment guide. Furthermore, all those who shared homes with these people are also in danger; unless strict decontamination protocols, such as the use of on-site showers, were followed, it was quite possible for personnel to bring home particles of asbestos on their skin, in their hair, or on their clothing. A mesothelioma cure could be developed one day but only palliative treatments currently exist.


Sources - BP Enters Canadian Oil Sands With Husky Energy - History of Sohio - History of Sohio

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History - BP AMERICA

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal

US Energy Information Administration - U.S. Refineries* Operable Capacity

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog



Baylor Mesothelioma Doctor Has High Hopes for Preoperative Immunotherapy

Health Insurance for Cancer Treatment: What to Know

Living with Mesothelioma: Claire Cowley Shares Her Husband’s Journey