Pennzoil-Quaker State Company was founded in 1998 with the intention of focusing on the consumer end of automotive products. Servicing over 90 countries, they now market more than 1,300 automotive products and have 20 brands that take the lead in the industry. Additionally, they are the owners of the Jiffy Lube franchise. In 1999 they started selling their refineries, and in 2001 Calumet Lubricants Company bought the Pennzoil Refinery.
The Pennzoil History
The Pennsylvania Refining Company (PRC) was founded in 1886 and was followed by the formation of the South Penn Oil Company in 1889. After South Penn became Standard Oil, it was dissolved by the US Supreme Court in 1911. Pennzoil Company was formed in 1924 and merged with Quaker State Corporation in 1998. Royal Dutch/Shell then took over the company in 2002, after the Pennzoil Refinery had already been sold to Calumet Lubricants.
The Sale and Status of the Refinery
The Pennzoil Refinery in Louisiana was not a focus point for Pennzoil-Quaker State and was causing financial distress for the company. In 1999, they shut down their Rouseville, Pennsylvania, refinery and sold ten more refineries the next year. In 2001 they continued to cut revenues and successfully sold the Pennzoil Refinery for an undisclosed amount.
In 2003, the Pennzoil-Calumet Refinery was recommended for air sampling by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Results of the sampling concluded that there was no health concern regarding the levels of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide. However, the levels of accidental releases of the gases were of potential concern, and more testing and analysis was recommended.
Pennzoil-Quaker State sold all of their refineries in order to reduce financial risk and to return their focus to the automotive products industry. Calumet Lubricants, a company founded in 1916 and headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, is still the owner today of the Pennzoil Refinery in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Asbestos and Oil Refineries
In most of the 20th century, various forms of asbestos were chosen as an insulator in cases where fire or extreme heat was a risk. Therefore, it was not uncommon for oil refineries such as the Pennzoil Refinery in Louisiana to be made with materials made with asbestos. A lesser-known property of certain types of the fibrous mineral is that they resist chemicals. As a result, asbestos was used in lab equipment and safety clothes. And while the asbestos worked well in safeguarding against the spread of fire and in protecting people and equipment from excessive heat, it also exposed those same people to significant health risks.
In general, amosite was the variety of asbestos used. Frequently called "brown asbestos", amosite is especially resistant to acidic chemicals like those manufactured in facilities like the Pennzoil Refinery in Louisiana because of the iron molecules in its chemical makeup. Used for many years in the form of asbestos transite in oil refineries, chemical plants and laboratories throughout the United States, amosite was eventually banned in building materials in the 1970s.
Asbestos transite displayed properties similar to cement; it could be sprayed onto ductwork and pipes and laminated. This form of asbestos did not offer a health risk as long as it was solid. As transite with asbestos containing material (ACM) grows older and become prone to crumbling, however, deadly, microscopic particles can float into the atmosphere. That is, such asbestos is friable, a term that is used to describe material that is easily crushed. The insulation lining of laboratory and chemical plant ovens also almost always were fabricated with friable asbestos.
Why Is Friable Asbestos Dangerous?
When friable, asbestos fibers are readily dispersed in the environment. If someone breathes these fibers, they can damage the lungs, resulting in cancer. In addition, exposure to asbestos has been shown to be the leading causal factor of mesothelioma, an unusual and almost always deadly disease of the mesothelium, which is the lining between the lungs and the chest cavity. Peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma are linked to the ingestion of fibers of asbestos, which is likely when microscopic particles are released into the air and land on food or in drinks.
Because research yielded more knowledge of asbestos' serious effects on human health, people today benefit from the protection offered by stringent guidelines regulating the use of asbestos. When most oil refineries were first operating, however, asbestos was more prevalent. Before present-day safety regulations were put into place, employees often labored without protective equipment in environments where asbestos particles filled the atmosphere.
The Lurking Danger of Asbestos
Asbestos-related diseases, as opposed to many work-related injuries, which are easily observed and known about soon after the incident, may take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to appear. Given such a lag time between exposure to asbestos and the manifestation of symptoms, the worker might not even connect his or her current health problem with work done many years ago. It is extremely important, therefore, that people that were employed by or spent much time around petroleum plants such as the Pennzoil Refinery in Louisiana ask their physicians for mesothelioma information. New treatments for mesothelioma are being developed, and early detection gives the patient and his or her doctor the best chance to combat the once always-fatal form of cancer with treatments like mesothelioma surgery.Sources
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry - Air Sampling Recommended at Pennzoil-Calumet Refinery in Shreveport, La
Funding Universe - Pennzoil-Quaker State Company
PR Newswire - Pennzoil-Quaker State Company Completes Sale of Shreveport Refinery (http://www2.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/04-30-2001/0001481841&EDATE=)
Shreveport Times - Calumet Lubricants Co. - Shreveport
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal