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Coastal Refining Alabama

In 1955, businessman Oscar Wyatt incorporated Coastal States Gas Producing Company. The company was originally headquartered in Corpus Christie, but later moved to Houston, Texas. The company had modest beginnings, starting with only 78 employees and 68 miles of pipeline. Over half a century, Wyatt was able to build his small company into a monolithic enterprise. In 1980, the company changed its name to Coastal Corporation.

Wyatt expanded his company by taking over rival companies, which were often hostile. The company owned many energy company subsidiaries to aid in exploration, processing, refining and storage; one of the most notable was the ANR Pipeline Company. In the late 1990s, Coastal Corporation was handling around 13 percent of the United States' natural gas consumption. At one time the company operated 18,000 miles of domestic pipeline, 14 natural gas processing facilities and 27 underground storage facilities to house product. The company owned four oil refineries, which supplied 34 states with gasoline via more than 1,500 branded gas stations.

The El Paso Corporation

Coastal Corporation's operating revenue began to dwindle between 1996 and 1998, down from $12.17 billion to $7.13 billion. In 2001, the El Paso Corporation bought Coastal Corporation in a $9.75 stock swap, 1.32 times its revenue. The buyout made the El Paso Corporation the largest pipeline owner with 42,000 miles domestically.

Oil Refining in Alabama

Coastal Corporation bought or built several oil refining plants around the country. In June 1998, the Coastal Corporation gained interests in Alabama through a processing plant and pipeline. There are currently three oil refining facilities operating within the state of Alabama.

Coastal Refining Alabama plants and Asbestos

In most of the last century, in cases where fire or excessive heat was a risk, various forms of asbestos were chosen as insulation. Plants such as Coastal Refining Alabama facilities, therefore, were often constructed using materials that contained asbestos. One of the other properties of certain forms of asbestos is that they resist chemicals. Ceiling tiles, insulation, benches, even protective garments, therefore, often were made with the fibrous mineral. Asbestos, however, came with a significant downside that was not known or at times deliberately ignored: grave and sometimes fatal medical conditions were found to be the result of asbestos exposure.

Amosite was often the variety of asbestos utilized in these facilities. When mixed with chrysotile, which is impervious to heat and bases but not as resistant to acidic compounds, amosite creates materials that are especially effective at protecting against corrosive substances. This amosite, in the form of asbestos transite, was used in oil refineries and labs across the United States for decades before being outlawed as a construction material in the 1970s.

Asbestos transite could be laminated, sprayed onto pipes and ductwork and molded into working surfaces just like cement could. This form of asbestos did not pose a health risk while it remained solid. As transite with asbestos containing material (ACM) ages and become prone to crumbling, however, lethal, microscopic fibers are able to flake off into the atmosphere. Asbestos in this condition is called friable, a term that is used for materials that are easily crushed. Also, laboratory and chemical plant kilns almost always were fabricated with friable asbestos in insulation linings.

Why Friable Asbestos Is Bad

Asbestos particles, when they are friable, can be readily dispersed into the environment. If someone inhales these fibers, they can damage the lungs, causing asbestosis or cancer. Another unusual, and often fatal, disease linked to asbestos is a type of cancer called mesothelioma. The pleural variety of mesothelioma, which attacks the lining between the lungs and the chest cavity, is the most common. If those particles of asbestos in the air land on food or drinks and are subsequently ingested, peritoneal or pericardial mesothelioma may result, though they are less common than pleural mesothelioma.

Since medical research yielded a better knowledge of the risks of asbestos exposure, people today enjoy the protection of stringent guidelines regulating how to use asbestos. When many oil refineries were built, however, the use of asbestos was much more prevalent. Any asbestos that remains from that time may still pose a health hazard if safety procedures are not followed during remodeling projects.

The Lurking Hazard of Asbestos

One of the insidious aspects of asbestos exposure is that associated diseases may take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to develop - often long after the worker leaves the employer. Given such a long time between exposure to asbestos and the appearance of the resulting disease, the worker might not connect the current health problem with work he or she did many years ago. It is very important, therefore, that all who worked in or spent much time around places like Coastal Refining Alabama plants tell their doctors about the possibility of exposure to asbestos. Furthermore, even people who commuted in the same cars with these people are also in danger, as unless effective decontamination protocols, like the use of on-site uniforms and showers, were in place, it was quite possible for workers to bring asbestos fibers on themselves or their clothing. If workers have been negligently exposed to asbestos they are encouraged to contact a mesothelioma attorney.

Sources

Sources

Answers.com - The Coastal Corporation
http://www.answers.com/topic/the-coastal-corporation

All Business - The El Paso Energy Corp. to purchase the Coastal Corp. for 1.32 times revenue
http://www.allbusiness.com/finance/887384-1.html

El Paso Corporation - Company Profile
http://www.elpaso.com/profile/

Ravensworth - Oil Trading and Exploration/U.S. Refineries
http://www.ravensworth.org/s-usrefineries.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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