Marathon Oil Corporation is the 4th largest United States-based oil and gas company as well as the 5th largest petroleum refiner in the country. It produces 1,016,000 barrels per day of crude oil, while its Robinson, Illinois, refinery has a crude capacity of 204,000 barrels per day. This refinery produces gasoline, jet fuel, propane and petroleum products, as well as butane and propylene.
Marathon Oil Corporation was founded as The Ohio Oil Company in 1887, with Henry M. Ernst as president. The business was purchased in 1889 by John D. Rockefeller's company, Standard Oil Trust. The name Ohio Oil was changed in 1962 to celebrate the company's 75th anniversary and honor its brand-name motor fuel. It was brought into the wholesale gasoline business when it purchased Plymouth Oil Company the same year.
In 1982, Marathon Oil became a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation, which changed its name to USX Corporation in 1986. Major recent acquisitions include Pennaco Energy in 2001 and Khanty Mansiysk Oil Corporation in 2003, establishing a new core business in Russia. It also acquired Western Oil Sands, Inc., in 2007.
Major pollutants, based on EPA data from 2002, include carbon tetrachloride, at 7.19 parts per million, benzene, and ethylene oxide. Major risk of cancer from inhaled pollutants was 0.59 in a million chances while background risk was 11.29 in a million. Reported low birth weight instances in the area were very close to national averages.
Marathon Oil maintains a Corporate Social Responsibility Policy that solidifies its commitment to sustained social, environmental, and economic benefits anywhere the company operates. Its current goals include conservation of resources, reducing emissions, and investing in new technologies and renewable energy resources.
Oil Refineries and Asbestos
During most of the 1900s, in cases where extreme temperature or flame was a danger, the mineral called asbestos was used as insulation. Asbestos-containing materials, therefore, were frequently utilized when building plants such as Marathon Oil Corporation refineries. Resistance to reactive chemicals is perhaps a less well-known property of various types of the fibrous mineral. As a result, asbestos was used in safety garments, bench tops and coating materials. One of the ironic things with asbestos is that while it does very well at protecting lives and property from the damage associated with excessive heat and fire - it is one of the best insulators known and has been used for this purpose since ancient times - it also poses serious risks to human well being.
Generally, amosite was the variety of asbestos used. Frequently called "brown asbestos", amosite is especially good at resisting acidic chemicals like those used in plants like Marathon Oil Corporation refineries because of the iron in its chemical makeup. This amosite, in the form of asbestos-containing transite, was utilized in labs and refineries across the US for many years before it was banned as a construction material in the 1970s.
Asbestos transite could be laminated, sprayed onto ductwork and pipes and molded into working surfaces in the same way cement could. This form of asbestos did not offer a health hazard while it remained solid. Tiny fibers of asbestos enter into the atmosphere, however, as transite with asbestos containing material (ACM) gets older and becomes prone to crumbling. Asbestos in this state is considered friable, or able to be reduced to powder by hand pressure alone. Laboratory and chemical plant kilns also almost always were fabricated with friable asbestos in insulation linings.
Why Is Friable Asbestos Bad?
When friable, asbestos fibers are easily dispersed in the atmosphere. When someone inhales these fibers, they can harm the lungs, causing asbestosis or cancer. Another uncommon, but generally fatal, disease linked to asbestos is mesothelioma. The pleural form of the illness, which affects the lining between the lungs and the chest cavity, is the most common. Peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma are caused by the ingestion of asbestos fibers, which happens if microscopic particles float in the air and settle on food or in drinks.
Increased pressure from medical scientists and activist groups forced the creation of regulations controlling the use of asbestos. However, when many oil refineries were built, asbestos was much more prevalent. And in way too many instances people used asbestos-containing materials when they did not have the protection of respirators or other protective gear.
A Ticking Bomb
As opposed to many workplace injuries, which are easily observed and known about soon after the causing incident, asbestos-related diseases may take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to appear. When a worker begins showing signs such as shortness of breath (also known as dyspnea), a persistent cough and pain in the chest or abdomen, his or her doctor might not immediately identify asbestos exposure as the culprit, leading to delays in diagnosis. Those that worked at or spent much time around plants such as Marathon Oil Corporation refineries should, accordingly, ask their doctors for mesothelioma information. Furthermore, even people who commuted in the same cars with these people are also at risk, because unless effective decontamination policies, including the use of on-site uniforms and showers, were followed, it was all too common for people to bring asbestos on their persons or their clothes. When detected early, there is a chance that the disease can be treated with mesothelioma surgery.Sources
EPA - MyEnvironment - Sites Reporting to EPA near Robinson, IL
Marathon Oil Website
Marathon Oil Company - Corporate Fact Sheet - PDF
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal