Foreland Refining has several plants throughout the state of Nevada. The Eagle Springs refinery in Ely has the capacity to process 2,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Other sites include Duckwater, Railroad Valley and Toponah. Foreland Refining focuses on petroleum refining. Products include fuels, fuel oils, aviation fuel, solid and gel fuels, benzene, marine fuel, kerosene and naphtha.
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In 1998, Foreland Corporation underwent some changes in operations. It purchased two refineries and a fleet of trucks for hauling oil from Petro Source Corporation. Employees from Petro Source were spread across Foreland's operations. This deal effectively created Foreland Refining Corporation, as well as the separate entity of Petro Source Asphalt Company. Foreland thus owned both oil fields and refineries within Nevada, as well as a trucking operation useful for moving oil within that system.
What is Benzene?
Benzene is a highly flammable chemical that can be harmful to humans. It is a clear or light yellow liquid at room temperature. Benzene occurs naturally (including in crude oil), but can also be man-made.
Benzene poisoning occurs when a person comes into extended contact with significant quantities of the chemical. Some long-term health effects of benzene poisoning include anemia and excessive bleeding. The Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that long-term exposure to high levels of benzene can lead to leukemia (blood cancer).
Asbestos in Foreland Refining
In the majority of the 1900s, in cases where flame or extreme heat was a danger, the mineral called asbestos was selected as insulation. Plants like Foreland Refining, as a result, were usually constructed using materials containing asbestos. Resistance to chemical reactions is one of the other properties of various forms of amphibole asbestos. Floor and ceiling tiles, insulation, work surfaces, even protective clothing, therefore, frequently contained the fibrous mineral. There is no doubt that asbestos was superb at protecting against high temperatures and combustion. This ability, however, was accompanied by a terrible price in terms of human health.
Much of this asbestos was amosite. When it is mixed with chrysotile, which is impervious to heat and bases but not as resistant to acids, amosite creates products that are especially good at protecting against corrosive substances. Although it was banned for construction purposes in the 1970s, this amosite, in the form of asbestos-containing transite, was used for many years in oil refineries and chemical plants throughout the country.
Asbestos transite had qualities like cement; it could be sprayed onto ductwork and pipes and laminated. Generally, new items made with transite were considered safe since the asbestos particles were encapsulated in the transite. However, as asbestos-containing transite got older, it was prone to becoming powdery, which enabled the deadly, microscopic particles to flake off into the atmosphere. In this state, it is said to be friable, a term used for material that is easy to crush. The insulation lining of industrial kilns also almost always were constructed with friable asbestos.
Why Friable Asbestos Is Bad
When friable, asbestos particles are easily released into the environment. Inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to diseases like asbestosis. Mesothelioma, an unusual but frequently deadly disease affecting the mesothelium (the lining between the lungs and the pleural cavity), has been shown to be linked with exposure to asbestos. Peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma are caused by the ingestion of asbestos fibers, which is likely when the microscopic particles become airborne and land on food or in beverages.
During the last twenty years medical researchers have learned a lot concerning the risks associated with being exposed to asbestos; therefore there are stringent laws regulating its use. However, when Foreland Refining was built, the use of asbestos was more prevalent. Before modern regulations were enacted, employees often toiled without respirators in environments where asbestos dust filled the air.
A Ticking Bomb
One of the insidious aspects of exposure to asbestos is that associated illnesses can take many, many years to appear - frequently decades after a worker has left the employer. The symptoms of asbestos-related diseases - a persistent cough, shortness of breath (also known as dyspnea) and pain in the chest or abdomen - may easily be confused with the symptoms of other conditions. So, it is vital for folks that were employed by or spent much time near sites like Foreland Refining to ask their physicians for a mesothelioma treatment guide. Moreover, all those who shared homes with these people are also at risk, because unless effective safety measures, including the use of workplace-only clothing and on-site showers, were enforced, it was all too common for people to bring asbestos particles on their persons or their clothes. There is no mesothelioma cure, therefore early detection is imperative.Sources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Facts About Benzene
Grist - Oil Refineries are full of asbestos, not just carbon
MacRae's Blue Book - Foreland Refining Corp.
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal
U.S. Energy Information Administration - U.S. Refineries Operable Capacity