Paramount Petroleum Corporation, headquartered in Paramount, California, produces 54,000 barrels per day of asphalt, fuel, oil and gas. They began in the 1930s, and today they dominate the western United States. The main refinery site sits on roughly 66 acres, but the company uses several terminals located throughout other states as well. There are terminals in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
It's All about the Asphalt
Asphalt, which comes from crude oil, makes up 30 percent of Paramount Petroleum Corporation's business. Gas oil comes in second at 25 percent, and 16 percent of production devoted to gasoline feedstock as well as diesel fuels. Jet fuel and fuel gas are also in their product offerings.
The main reason for the manufacturing of oil, fuel, and gas is because asphalt is actually produced from the bottom of the barrel; literally. Once the petroleum-based products are refined, the asphalt remains as a thick substance that has adhered to the barrel. Paramount Petroleum is primarily an asphalt manufacturer despite their other products. They make asphalt for roofing as well as for paving and also sell specialty products such as rubberized asphalt.
Oil Refineries and Asbestos
For most of the 20th century, various forms of asbestos were used as insulation whenever fire or excessive heat was a risk. Materials that contained asbestos, therefore, were commonly used in the building of oil refineries such as Paramount Petroleum Corporation. Along with being non-flammable and heat-proof, some forms of amphibole asbestos are also particularly resistant to reactive chemicals. Ceiling tiles, insulation, counter tops, even protective garments, therefore, commonly were made with the fibrous mineral. There is no question that asbestos was extremely effective at protecting against flames or heat. This benefit, however, came with a tragic price in terms of human health.
Much of this asbestos was of the amosite variety. The brownish color associated with amosite comes from iron molecules in its chemical composition; this also makes amosite resistant to acidic chemicals, such as those manufactured in oil refineries. Although it was banned for construction purposes in the 1970s, amosite, in the form of asbestos transite, appeared for decades in chemical plants, laboratories and oil refineries across the country.
Similar to cement, asbestos transite could be laminated and sprayed onto ductwork and pipes. As long as it was solid, this form of asbestos offered little hazard. As this transite ages and become prone to crumbling, however, lethal, tiny particles can flake off into the air. That is, such asbestos is friable, which means easy to crush. Also, laboratory ovens frequently contained friable asbestos in insulation linings.
Why Is Friable Asbestos Dangerous?
When friable, asbestos fibers are readily dispersed in the air. Medical conditions like cancer can result from being exposed to airborne asbestos. In addition, asbestos exposure has been shown to be the primary cause of pleural mesothelioma, an unusual but almost always deadly disease of the mesothelium, which is the tissue that lies between the lungs and the chest cavity. Ingestion of asbestos fibers, as happens if the tiny fibers are released into the air and settle on food or in drinks, can result in peritoneal or pericardial mesothelioma.
Because research yielded a better awareness of the risks of asbestos exposure, workers today are protected by strict guidelines regulating the use of asbestos. When oil refineries like Paramount Petroleum Corporation were first operating, however, asbestos was much more prevalent. And even now, asbestos from the past can cause danger when it is not properly contained during remodeling projects.
The Hidden Hazard of Asbestos
As opposed to many work-related injuries, which are readily observed and known about immediately following the incident, asbestos-related diseases may take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to develop. Given such a lag between exposure to asbestos and the onset of symptoms, the worker may not even associate the current condition with work he or she did up to 40 years ago. So, it is very important for all who worked in or lived near oil refineries such as Paramount Petroleum Corporation ask their physicians for mesothelioma information. Such information can assist physicians make accurate diagnoses; especially with mesothelioma, the earlier it is caught, the better the chances of surviving or at least of improved quality of life after treatments like mesothelioma surgery.Sources
Paramount Petroleum - About Us
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WiseGeek - What is Asphalt?
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal