Hawaii's isolated geographic location makes the need for local fuel production even greater. Hawaii relies on the production of marine fuels and jet fuels to supply power to the local economy. Tesoro is one of two refineries on the Islands and operates the larger of the two. Because Hawaii has no crude oil source of its own, the state must import oil to be refined for fuel use.
The Kapolei refinery is located on 131 acres on the southwestern tip of the island of Oahu, approximately 22 miles for the capital city of Honolulu. The Kapolei refinery has the capacity to process 94,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The crude oil is used for products such as gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, marine fuel and fuel oil used for electrical generation.
Distribution and Retail
The Kapolei refinery delivers its fuel products via a company-owned and third-party owned pipeline that connects the refinery to the Honolulu Harbor and Honolulu International Airport. Additional pipelines connect the refinery to Kalaeloa Harbor, where the crude oil is loaded on tankers to be distributed to neighboring islands.
Tesoro brand gasoline is sold at more than 30 company-owned self-service gas stations on the islands of Maui and Oahu and the Big Island.
Health, Safety and the Environment
The Kapolei refinery is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its employees and preserving the natural beauty of Hawaii. The Kapolei refinery is a member of the Campbell Local Emergency Action Network, a group that provides funds to the local fire department for training in hazardous materials. In 2007, Tesoro Hawaii participated in a large oil spill drill to prepare for recovery and clean up in the event of an actual spill.
Asbestos in Oil Refineries
During much of the 1900s, asbestos was used as a building material whenever flames or temperature extremes were a risk. As a result, it was quite common for oil refineries such as Tesoro Kapolei refinery to be constructed with materials made with asbestos. One of the other properties of some kinds of the fibrous mineral is their resistance to chemical reactions. Given the type of work that goes on at refineries, asbestos, therefore, appeared not only in factory buildings, but also in protective garments, lab equipment and benches. Asbestos, however, came with a major downside that was not understood or sometimes deliberately ignored: serious and often fatal diseases were found to be the result of asbestos exposure.
In general, amosite was the kind of asbestos used. Amosite is one of the amphibole varieties of asbestos, which is commonly considered more prone to result in health problems than serpentine asbestos. This amosite, in the form of asbestos-containing transite, was used in chemical plants and labs across the country for decades before it was banned as a construction material in the 1970s.
Similar to cement, asbestos transite could be sprayed onto ductwork and pipes and laminated. Generally, new items formed from transite were considered safe since the asbestos particles were encapsulated in the transite. Tiny particles of asbestos are released into the air, however, as transite with asbestos containing material (ACM) grows older and becomes prone to becoming powdery. In this state, it is considered friable, a term used to describe materials that are easily pulverized. The insulation lining of laboratory and chemical plant ovens also almost always were constructed with friable asbestos.
The Problem with Friable Asbestos
When they are friable, asbestos particles are readily dispersed in the air. Inhaling asbestos particles can lead to diseases like asbestosis. In addition, exposure to asbestos is the primary causal factor 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 ingesting asbestos fibers, which can occur if the microscopic particles become airborne and land on food or in beverages.
Since scientific inquiry resulted in a better knowledge of asbestos' serious effects on human health, people today benefit from the protection offered by strict laws regulating how to use asbestos. However, when places like the Tesoro Kapolei refinery were built, asbestos was much more common. And in too many instances people worked with asbestos-containing materials without the benefit of respirators or other protective gear.
The Lurking Hazard of Asbestos
Unlike most work-related injuries, which are readily observed and known about soon after the causing incident, asbestos-related diseases can take many, many years to manifest. With such a lag between exposure and the manifestation of symptoms, the worker may not connect his or her current condition with work he or she did many years earlier. Hence, it is extremely important for men and women who worked in or lived around places such as the Tesoro Kapolei refinery to ask their health care professionals for mesothelioma information. Such information can assist doctors to make a timely diagnosis; especially with mesothelioma, the earlier it is diagnosed, the higher the odds of survival or at least of enjoying an improved quality of life through treatments like mesothelioma surgery when available.Sources
Hoovers - Tesoro Hawaii Corporation
Tesoro Corporation - About Tesoro
Tesoro Corporation - Kapolei Refinery
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal