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Petro Star Alaska

The Petro Star Company was formed by group of experienced petroleum professionals in 1984. The company was founded because of Alaska's need for a refinery that produced light oil fuels for heating homes and operating local businesses. Petro Star is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and is the only Alaska-owned refining and marketing operation in the state. In 1986, Petro Star began purchasing fuel distribution companies in Alaska in order to distribute its products throughout Alaska.

It was not long after the company's inception that it built its first refinery in the North Pole along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Petro Star now owns and operates two refineries within Alaska, one in the North Pole and one in Valdez.

North Pole Refinery

The North Pole refinery has the capacity to process 17,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The North Pole refinery produces products such as diesel fuel, jet fuel and kerosene for military, industrial, commercial and residential customers in Northern Alaska as well as interior state destinations.

Valdez Refinery

In 1991, plans for the second Petro Star refinery in Valdez, Alaska got under way. By 1993, the refinery was in full operation and today the Valdez refinery has a capacity to process 50,000 barrels of Alaska North Slope crude oil per day. The Valdez refinery's product line includes home heating oil, turbine fuel, marine diesel, commercial jet fuel and military fuel.

The refinery is the newest oil refinery in the United States and was built in line with the strictest environmental standards and includes a state-of-the-art emissions control system.

Oil Refineries and Asbestos

In the majority of the last century, in cases where combustion or extreme heat was a concern, the mineral called asbestos was chosen as a building material. Therefore, it was quite common for oil refineries to be built with asbestos-containing materials. Another property of various kinds of asbestos is that they are unaffected by chemicals. As a result, asbestos was used in coating materials, safety clothes and counter tops. The ironic thing with asbestos is that although it does superbly guarding against the damage associated with excessive heat or combustion - it is one of the most effective insulators known and has been used for this purpose throughout history - at the same time it poses serious risks to people's health.

Amosite was often the type of asbestos used in such locations. Frequently referred to as "brown asbestos", the amphibole form of asbestos known as amosite is especially good at resisting corrosive substances like those produced in oil refineries because of the iron molecules in its chemical composition. Although it was eventually prohibited from use for construction purposes, amosite, in the form of asbestos-containing transite, appeared for many years in chemical plants, oil refineries and labs across the country.

Asbestos transite had properties like cement; it could be laminated, sprayed onto ductwork and pipes and molded into working surfaces. Generally, new items built with transite were innocuous because the asbestos fibers were encapsulated in the transite. However, when asbestos-containing transite got older, it was prone to becoming powdery, which caused the lethal, tiny particles to float into the air. In other words, such asbestos is friable, or able to be reduced to powder by hand pressure alone. Also, industrial ovens almost always were constructed with friable asbestos as part of their insulation linings.

The Dangers of Friable Asbestos

Friable asbestos is a problem since in this condition the fibers are easily released in the atmosphere. When a person inhales these particles, they can damage the lungs, causing asbestosis or cancer. In addition, asbestos exposure is known to be the leading cause of mesothelioma, an unusual and often lethal disease affecting the mesothelium, which is the tissue that lies between the lungs and the chest cavity. Peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma result from swallowing fibers of asbestos, which can occur if microscopic particles become airborne and settle on food or drinks. Pleural mesothelioma affects the chest wall.

Because research led to more knowledge of asbestos' serious effects on human health, employees today enjoy the protection of strict guidelines regulating how to use asbestos. When most refineries were built, however, the use of asbestos was much more prevalent. Any asbestos remaining from then can yet pose a health hazard if care is not taken during remodeling and demolition projects.

The Lurking Hazard of Asbestos

One of the insidious aspects of exposure to asbestos is that associated illnesses can take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to develop - frequently decades after a worker leaves the employer. When a worker starts exhibiting signs such as chest pain, chronic coughing and difficulty breathing, his or her doctor might not immediately recognize asbestos exposure as the culprit, leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. It is vital, therefore, that those that worked at or lived around oil refineries like Petro Star Company Refineries tell their health care professionals about the chance of asbestos exposure. In addition, all those who shared homes with these people are also in danger, because unless strict decontamination protocols, such as using on-site showers, were followed, it was common for employees to bring asbestos dust on their persons or their clothes. Those who could have been exposed to asbestos negligently should contact a mesothelioma attorney.

Sources

Sources

Bloomberg Press - Petro Star Refinery in Alaska Extinguishes Fire, Police Say
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=awn8AHqWCjY8&pid=20602099

Energy Digger - Petro Star, Inc.
http://www.energydigger.com/companies/oil-&-gas/refining-&-marketing/petro-star-inc/

Petro Star, Inc. - Corporate Profile
http://www.petrostar.com/home/home.asp

Petroleum News - Petro Star Valdez Plans ULSD Upgrade
http://www.petroleumnews.com/pntruncate/146762141.shtml

Petroleum News - Petro Star Valdez Refinery Hit by Fire
http://www.petroleumnews.com/pntruncate/541163417.shtml

The Arctic Sounder - Petro Star Refinery Reopens Following 2008 Fire
http://www.thearcticsounder.com/article/0946petro_star_refinery_reopens_following_2008_fire

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/EHSRM/ASB/acmimages3.html

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal
http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/EHSRM/HAZEXCEPTIONS/a.html

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