Resources for Patients and their Families

Lion Oil

Lion Oil was founded in 1922 in El Dorado, Arkansas. Thomas Harry Barton was primarily responsible for the formation of the company. Lion Oil refines and markets a number of petroleum products including gasoline, liquid petroleum gas, diesel fuel, propane, solvents, coatings and asphalt.

The primary customers of Lion Oil are municipal, county and state government agencies, roofing plants, highway contractors, emulsion manufacturers and wood treatment companies. Lion Oil is the largest independent refiner of high-sulfur crude oil in its primary market consisting of Arkansas, northern Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. The El Dorado refinery has a capacity to process 75,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

In 1985, a group of investors led by the Ergon, Inc., formed the Lion Oil Company. Ergon, Inc., is headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, and owns numerous subsidiaries related to the petroleum industry.

Lion Oil Supply Lines

Lion Oil utilizes several different pipelines to have crude oil shipped to the refinery including Exxon Mobile's pipeline connected to Louisiana's Offshore Oil Port, the Paline Pipeline Company and the company's domestic gathering system. The Magnolia Pipeline Company, a Lion Oil subsidiary, operates an oil pipeline that connects to Exxon Mobile's pipeline around the city of Finney, Louisiana.

El Dorado Oilers

In the 1930s the Lion Oil Company of El Dorado sponsored a women's basketball team called the El Dorado Oilers. The team was part of the Amateur Athletic Union. The El Dorado Oilers were the best team of their time never to win the national Amateur Athletic Union tournament.

Refinery Fire

In July 2008, a fire at the Lion Oil's El Dorado refinery broke out destroying a crude oil pump, but not much else was damaged in the blaze.

Asbestos and Oil Refineries

In the majority of the 20th century, the mineral called asbestos was chosen as a building material when flames or temperature extremes were a risk. Facilities such as Lion Oil's El Dorado refinery, therefore, were frequently built with materials containing asbestos. Resistance to reactive chemicals is perhaps a less well-known property of certain types of amphibole asbestos. As a result, asbestos was used in protective garments, coating materials and counter tops. And while the asbestos worked well in preventing the spread of fire and in protecting people and equipment from high temperatures, the mineral also exposed people who used it or worked around it to serious health risks.

Amosite was almost always the type of asbestos utilized in these facilities. The brownish tint associated with amosite comes from iron molecules in its chemical makeup; this also causes amosite to be resistant to acidic chemicals like those manufactured in facilities like Lion Oil's El Dorado refinery. Although it was prohibited from use in building materials in the 1970s, this amosite, in the form of asbestos transite, appeared for decades in laboratories and refineries across the US.

As with cement, asbestos transite could be laminated, sprayed onto pipes and ductwork and molded into working surfaces. Generally, new items built with transite were considered safe since the asbestos particles were encapsulated in the transite. However, as asbestos-containing transite aged, it became prone to becoming powdery, which enabled the deadly, tiny particles to float into the air. When it is in this state, it is said to be friable, a term that is used for material that is easily pulverized. The insulation lining of industrial ovens also often were constructed with friable asbestos.

The Dangers of Friable Asbestos

Asbestos particles, when they are friable, are easily released in the air. Medical conditions like asbestosis are known to result from inhaling asbestos. Pleural mesothelioma, a rare but all too often deadly cancer affecting the mesothelium (the tissue that lies between the lungs and the pleural cavity), is strongly linked with asbestos exposure. Swallowing asbestos fibers, as is easy to do when those tiny particles float in the air and land on food or in drinks, can be the cause of pericardial or peritoneal mesothelioma.

During the past few decades medical researchers have learned a lot concerning the risks associated with being exposed to asbestos; as a result there are strict guidelines regulating its use. Asbestos use was more prevalent, however, when plants such as Lion Oil's El Dorado refinery were constructed. Before present-day rules were put into place, workers often toiled without respirators or other protective gear in environments where asbestos dust clouded the air.

The Ticking Bomb

Asbestos-related diseases, as opposed to most job-related injuries, which are readily observed and known about immediately following the causing incident, may take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to appear. When a worker begins showing signs such as dyspnea, chronic coughing and pain in the chest, his or her doctor may not at first identify asbestos as a factor, leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. It is extremely important, therefore, that people who worked in or spent much time near places such as Lion Oil's El Dorado refinery inform their health care professionals about the possibility of asbestos exposure. In addition, spouses and children of these people are also at risk; unless effective decontamination protocols, such as the use of workplace-only clothing and on-site showers, were in place, it was all too easy for employees to bring home asbestos on themselves or their clothing. Individuals who believe they may have been exposed negligently should seek legal counsel with a mesothelioma attorney.



Business Week - Lion Oil Company

Lion Oil Company - Refining

Hoopedia - El Dorado Lion Oil

Ergon - Refining and Marketing

El Dorado News - Fire erupts at Lion Oil's Refinery

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

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal

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