Although it was built in 1954 by Sure-Seal Corporation, the oil refinery in Woods Cross, Utah, was bought by Inland Refining on December 31, 1997, from Crysen for $17.5 million. Inland Refining later sold the refinery again to Silver Eagle Refining, Inc., in January 2000. The Wood Cross Refinery was subsequently bought by Holly Corporation in 2003.
Situated on 42 acres, the refinery, based on information from UtahRails.net, had an overall crude oil capacity of 12,500 barrels a day in 1998. Its effective crude capacity was about 8,500 barrels with a mix of crude feedstocks processed. Inland Refining processed its crude oil into motor gasoline, Kerosene, #1 and #2 diesel, waxes, heavy vacuum gas oil, road asphalt and other asphalts. The facility still has a wide range of transport options, with the capability to receive and ship by rail car and truck. It also gets crude oil via the Amoco and Chevron pipelines.
Little data exists on Inland Refineries, other than a Web listing with an address. For the same site, however, Holly Refining agreed to pay a $120,000 civil penalty to the Justice Department and the US EPA. The settlement was intended to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act; as a result, Holly agreed to reduce air pollution from the site by over 420 tons annually. In addition, Holly planned on spending $130,000 on an environmental project to help fund purchases of emergency response equipment.
In November 2009, the same refinery planned to temporarily shut down following an explosion that damaged homes near the facility. The purpose was to repair equipment, including inadequate piping. Investigators also discovered inaccurate records on the equipment, suspecting that it was past the expiration date by which it was expected to safely function. No data on asbestos was available.
Asbestos and Inland Refining
During most of the last century, in cases where fire or excessive heat was a risk, various forms of asbestos were chosen as insulation. Facilities such as Inland Refining’s oil refinery in Woods Cross, Utah, therefore, were often constructed using materials that contained asbestos. Resistance to chemical reactions is one of the other properties of certain forms of asbestos. As a result, asbestos was utilized in benches, protective clothing and coating materials. There is no doubt that asbestos was great at safeguarding against high temperatures and combustion. This ability, however, came with a horrible price in terms of human health.
Amosite was frequently the type of asbestos used in these plants. Amosite is one of the amphibole varieties of the asbestos family of minerals, which is commonly considered more apt to result in disease than the serpentine form. Used for decades in the form of asbestos transite in chemical plants, labs and refineries across the US, amosite was finally prohibited from use for construction purposes in the 1970s.
Asbestos transite could be molded into working surfaces, sprayed onto ductwork and pipes and laminated in the same way cement could. As long as it remained solid, this form of asbestos posed almost no risk. Tiny particles of asbestos enter into the atmosphere, however, as this transite ages and becomes prone to crumbling. That is, such asbestos is friable, or able to be crushed by hand pressure alone. Laboratory and chemical plant kilns also often were constructed with friable asbestos as part of their insulation linings.
The Problem with Friable Asbestos
Asbestos fibers, when friable, can be readily dispersed in the air. Diseases like cancer are known to result from being exposed to airborne asbestos. Pleural mesothelioma, an unusual but often lethal disease affecting the mesothelium (the lining between the lungs and the chest cavity), has been shown to be linked with asbestos exposure. Peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma result from the ingestion of fibers of asbestos, which happens if microscopic particles float in the air and settle on food or in beverages.
Since medical research yielded increased understanding of the risks of asbestos exposure, people today enjoy the protection of strict regulations controlling the use of asbestos. When most oil refineries were built, however, the use of asbestos was more prevalent. And in too many cases people worked with asbestos-containing materials without the protection of protective equipment.
Asbestos Exposure - a Hidden Danger
As opposed to typical job-related injuries, which are readily observed and known about soon after the incident, asbestos-related diseases may take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to develop. With such a long time between exposure and the appearance of the resulting disease, a worker may not even associate his or her current condition with work done decades ago. So, it is extremely important for people that worked in or spent much time around plants like Inland Refining oil refinery in Woods Cross, Utah, to ask their health care professionals for a mesothelioma treatment guide. New treatments are being discovered in an effort to find a mesothelioma cure, and early detection gives patients and their doctors the best chance to beat the previously deathly disease.Sources
EPA - Holly Refining Agrees to Spend Millions to Upgrade Pollution Controls
Holly Corporation - Woods Cross Refinery
KSL.com - Silver Eagle Refinery to Temporarily Shut Down
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal
UtahRails.net - Utah’s Oil Industry and Utah’s Railroads