The Sinclair Oil Corporation has long had a focus on refining crude to the highest standards within the industry. In 1983, Sinclair expanded their refinery holdings with a facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In their Tulsa Refinery, Sinclair focused on producing 60,000 barrels of petroleum products each day, using the latest refining technology to produce high-octane gasolines.
In September 2007, the Sinclair Tulsa Refining Company publicized an intention to boost fuel production even more. With a budget estimated at $1 billion, the goal was to boost production capacity 60 percent - to 115,000 barrels per day - by adding delayed coker and hydrocoker units, a flare gas recovery system, and other units. The plan allowed for increased ability to handle heavy sour and sweet crudes, to turn asphalt oils in fuels, and to reduce emissions.
In July 2009, however, it was announced that the expansion plan was put on hold. Additionally, word was released that Sinclair Oil was looking for a buyer for the Tulsa refinery - amending a previous report that Sinclair was seeking a partner for a joint venture in order to complete the project. In late 2009, Holly Corporation, which had recently purchased Sunoco's Tulsa-based refinery, purchased the facility from Sinclair for more than $128 million.
Asbestos and Oil Refineries
In situations where flame or heat was a concern, various forms of asbestos were the insulating material of choice during much of the 1900s. Materials made with asbestos, accordingly, were commonly utilized in the construction of oil refineries like Sinclair Oil Corporation. In addition to being heat-proof and a fire retardant, certain kinds of amphibole asbestos are also especially impervious to reactive chemicals. because of the nature of the work that goes on in oil refineries, asbestos, therefore, appeared not only in plant structures, but also in bench and counter tops and safety garments. One of the ironic things with asbestos is that although it does a fine job of protecting lives and property from the harm done by excessive heat and fire - it is one of the most effective insulators known and has been used for this purpose throughout history - it also poses serious risks to people's health.
In general, amosite was the type of asbestos utilized. When mixed with chrysotile, which is impervious to heat and bases but not as resistant to acidic compounds, the amphibole amosite creates materials that are especially good at preventing damage from corrosive substances. Used for many years in the form of asbestos transite in laboratories, refineries and chemical plants across the United States, amosite was eventually disallowed in building materials in the 1970s.
Asbestos transite could be molded into working surfaces and sprayed onto ductwork and pipes just as cement could. This form of asbestos did not pose a health hazard as long as it remained solid. However, as asbestos-containing transite got older, it was prone to becoming powdery, which caused the deadly, tiny fibers to flake off into the air. In other words, such asbestos is friable, which means easily pulverized. The insulation lining of laboratory and chemical plant kilns also frequently contained friable asbestos.
Why Is Friable Asbestos Bad?
Friable asbestos is a problem because in this state the particles are readily released in the air. Medical conditions such as asbestosis and cancer can result from breathing asbestos. In addition, asbestos exposure has been shown to be the primary causal factor of mesothelioma, an unusual and almost always lethal disease affecting the mesothelium, which is the tissue that lies between the lungs and the chest cavity. When those particles of asbestos in the air settle on food or in beverages and are subsequently ingested, pericardial or peritoneal mesothelioma may occur, though they are rarer than pleural mesothelioma.
Increased pressure from citizen groups and the press resulted in laws regulating how to use asbestos. When oil refineries were first operating, however, asbestos was much more common. Before present-day regulations were enacted, employees often toiled without respirators or other safety gear in environments where asbestos particles filled the air.
A Time Bomb
Unlike most work-related injuries, which are readily observed and known about immediately following the causing incident, asbestos-related diseases can take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to develop. When a former employee starts exhibiting symptoms such as pain in the chest or abdomen, shortness of breath (also known as dyspnea) and a persistent cough, his or her doctor may not immediately identify asbestos exposure as the culprit, leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, it is very important for those who worked in or spent much time around places like Sinclair Oil Corporation to ask their physicians for a mesothelioma treatment guide. Furthermore, even people who commuted in the same cars with these people are also in danger, as unless strict decontamination protocols, including using workplace-only clothing and on-site showers, were enforced, it was easy for personnel to bring home asbestos particles on themselves or their clothing. Researchers are working to develop a mesothelioma cure but only palliative treatments currently exist.Sources
Dallas News - Holly Corporation to Buy Tulsa Refinery from Sinclair
Oklahoma City Journal - Sinclair plans 60-percent Tulsa Refinery Boost
Sinclair Oil - About Sinclair Oil
Tulsa World - Sinclair May Want to Sell Its Refinery
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal