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Coastal Refining

Coastal States Gas Producing Company was incorporated by Oscar Wyatt in 1955. The company was originally held headquarters in Corpus Christie, Texas, but later moved its offices Houston, Texas. Starting with only 78 employees and 68 miles of pipeline, Coastal Corporation had modest beginnings. Within 50 years, Wyatt built a large oil enterprise that would become known as Coastal Corporation in 1980.

Over the years, Coastal Corporation expanded operations by taking over rival companies, many of which were considered hostile. Coastal Corporation was handling around 13 percent of the United States' natural gas consumption in the late 1990s. At one time the company operated 14 natural gas processing facilities, 27 underground storage facilities and 18,000 miles of domestic pipeline. Coastal Corporation owned four oil refineries, including one in Corpus Christi, Texas, which provided 34 states with gasoline through more than 1,500 branded retail gas stations.

The El Paso Corporation

In 2001, the El Paso Corporation purchased Coastal Corporation in a $9.75 stock swap, which was 1.32 times its revenue. Coastal Corporation decided to sell out after operating revenue began to dwindle between 1996 and 1998, amounting in $7.13 billion in profits, which were down from $12.17 billion. The El Paso Corporation became the largest pipeline owner with 42,000 miles domestically after the purchase.

Oil Refining in Texas

The Coastal Corporation continued to build its oil refining capabilities through the late 1990s. In 1997, Coastal Corporation entered into talks with the Venezuelan national oil company that involved a venture with the Corpus Christie refinery. In May 1999, an explosion at the Corpus Christi refinery resulted after equipment was neglected due to budgetary concerns. Three workers were injured in the explosion and were awarded $122 million in damages.

Oil Refineries and Asbestos

If extreme temperature or fire was a concern, the mineral called asbestos was the insulating material preferred by builders for the majority of the last century. As a result, it was quite common for oil refineries like Coastal Refining to be built with materials made with asbestos. Along with being heat-proof as well as flame-proof, certain forms of asbestos are also particularly impervious to reactive chemicals. Floor tiles, insulation, bench tops, even protective uniforms, therefore, often were made with the fibrous mineral. Asbestos, however, had a notable downside that was either not known or at times deliberately ignored: serious and sometimes lethal diseases were found to be the result of asbestos exposure.

In general, amosite was the kind of asbestos used. When it is mixed with chrysotile, which is impervious to heat and bases but not as impervious to acidic compounds, amosite creates products that are particularly good at preventing damage from corrosive chemicals. This amosite, in the form of asbestos transite, was utilized in refineries and labs throughout the country for many years before it was outlawed in building materials in the 1970s.

Asbestos transite was characterized properties similar to cement; it could be sprayed onto pipes and ductwork and laminated. As long as it remained solid, this form of asbestos offered no immediate hazard. However, as this transite aged, it became prone to crumbling, which caused the lethal, microscopic particles to float into the air. In other words, such asbestos is friable, a term that is used for material that is easily crushed. Also, industrial kilns almost always were constructed with friable asbestos as part of their insulation linings.

The Problem with Friable Asbestos

Friable asbestos is a problem since in this condition the particles can be readily dispersed in the air. Medical conditions like asbestosis are known to result from being exposed to airborne asbestos. Another unusual, and often fatal, asbestos-related disease is a type of cancer called mesothelioma. The pleural form of the illness, which affects the tissue that lies between the lungs and the pleural cavity, is the most prevalent. Peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma are caused by the ingestion of asbestos fibers, which is likely if the microscopic particles float in the air and settle on food or drinks.

Since medical research yielded a better knowledge of asbestos' serious effects on human health, workers today benefit from the protection offered by stringent regulations controlling how to use asbestos. Asbestos use was more prevalent, however, when places like Coastal Refining were constructed. And even now, asbestos from the past may be the source of problems if it is not properly contained during demolition and remodeling jobs.

The Time Bomb

One of the insidious aspects of exposure to asbestos is that associated diseases may take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to appear - often decades after a worker has left the employer. The symptoms of mesothelioma and asbestosis - shortness of breath and chronic coughing - can easily be mistaken for those of other conditions. It is vital, therefore, that men and women that were employed by or spent much time around petrochemical processing facilities such as Coastal Refining ask their health care professionals for a mesothelioma treatment guide. Such information can help doctors to make a timely diagnosis; especially with mesothelioma, the sooner the diagnosis, the better the odds of surviving or at least of enjoying an improved quality of life. Although there is no mesothelioma cure, the disease can potentially be treated with various therapies.



All Business - The El Paso Energy Corp. to purchase the Coastal Corp. for 1.32 times revenue - The Coastal Corporation

El Paso Corporation - Company Profile

Ravensworth - Oil Trading and Exploration/U.S. Refineries

Texas Judiciary Online - Coastal Corporation vs. Daniel Torres, William Bourland, and David Natividad

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

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal

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