Resources for Patients and their Families

Tesoro Alaska Co.

Tesoro's Kenai refinery opened in 1969 and is located on the Cook Inlet, which is 70 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. The Kenai refinery is situated on 488 acres of land and has a daily output capacity of 72,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The refinery produces several different products including jet fuel, propane, asphalt, heavy fuel oils, heating oils, ultra low-sulfur gasoline and low-sulfur diesel fuel.

Distribution and Retail

A common-carrier pipeline stretches 71 miles long and has the capacity to deliver 40,000 barrels of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel to the Anchorage International Airport and the Port of Anchorage. The Kenai refinery delivers its crude oil products through the eastern Cook Inlet and Kenai Peninsula with double-hulled tankers to ensure environmental safety.

There exist more than 90 2GoTesoro brand gas stations within the state of Alaska; of those stations, 31 are company owned and the rest are independently owned and operated.

Commitment to the Environment and Community

The Kenai refinery is committed to preserving the natural environment it resides in by taking extra precautions and altering products and processes as necessary to protect the people and wildlife that live in the area.

In 2006, the refinery rerouted a portion of its pipeline to restore the salmon run at Anchorage's Chester Creek. In 2007, with the completion of a Distillate Desulfurization Unit, the Kenai refinery became the sole producer in Alaska of ultra low-sulfur diesel. The refinery worked with the Cook Inlet Region Citizens Advisory Council to prepare response strategies for the area.

The refinery has been honored with numerous awards for its efforts. In 2001, the Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force awarded the Tesoro Kenai refinery the "Legacy Award for Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response". Since its opening in 1969, only four people, all of whom still reside in the Kenai area, have managed the plant.

Asbestos in Tesoro's Kenai refinery

In situations where flame or extreme heat was a concern, asbestos was the insulation of choice for most of the 1900s. Plants such as Tesoro's Kenai refinery, as a result, were frequently constructed with materials that contained asbestos. Resistance to reactive chemicals is perhaps a less well-known property of certain forms of amphibole asbestos. As a result, asbestos was used in coating materials, work surfaces and protective clothes. There is little doubt that asbestos was very good at safeguarding against excessive heat and flames. This strength, however, was accompanied by a horrible price in terms of human health.

Most of this asbestos was of the amosite variety. Amosite is one of the amphibole varieties of asbestos and is commonly thought to be more apt to result in health problems than serpentine asbestos. This amosite, in the form of asbestos-containing transite, was used in oil refineries and laboratories across the US for decades before being outlawed for construction purposes in the 1970s.

Asbestos transite could be sprayed onto ductwork and pipes and laminated in the same way cement could. This form of asbestos did not present a health risk as long as it was solid. However, when this transite got older, it became prone to crumbling, which enabled the deadly, tiny particles to flake off into the atmosphere. That is, such asbestos is friable, which translates to easy to crush. The insulation lining of laboratory kilns also often contained friable asbestos.

Why Friable Asbestos Is a Problem

Asbestos fibers, when friable, are easily dispersed into the environment. When someone breathes these particles, they can harm the lungs, causing cancer. Another uncommon, but often deadly, disease caused by asbestos is mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining between the lungs and the pleural cavity, is the most prevalent. Peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma are caused by ingesting asbestos fibers, which happens when microscopic particles float in the air and settle on food or in beverages.

Mounting pressure from researchers, citizen groups and news media led to laws regulating the use of asbestos. However, when plants such as Tesoro's Kenai refinery were built, the use of asbestos was more commonplace. Any asbestos that remains from that period can still pose danger if special care is not taken during remodeling jobs.

Asbestos Exposure - a Hidden Danger

One of the insidious aspects of asbestos exposure is the resulting illnesses can take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to develop - often long after the worker leaves the employer. It can also be difficult to diagnose asbestos-related illnesses since their symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. It is very important, therefore, that folks that were employed by or spent much time near oil refineries such as Tesoro's Kenai refinery tell their doctors about the chance of exposure to asbestos. Such information can enable physicians to make accurate diagnoses; especially with mesothelioma, the sooner the diagnosis, the higher the odds of survival or at the least of enjoying an improved quality of life. Those who may have been exposed negligently should seek legal counsel from a mesothelioma attorney.



Strategic Asset Management International - Tesoro Petroleum Corporation: Kenai, Alaska

Tesoro Corporation - About Tesoro

Tesoro Corporation - Kenai Refinery

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog



MCA Observes World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Life After Cancer: What Survivorship Means for These Individuals

Baylor Mesothelioma Doctor Has High Hopes for Preoperative Immunotherapy