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Tesoro West Coast

Situated on 917 acres 60 miles north of Seattle on the Puget Sound is Tesoro Corporation's Anacortes refinery. In 1955, Shell Oil built the 40,000-barrel-per-day Anacortes refinery; in 1998 Shell sold it to the Tesoro Corporation, which later expanded the operating capacity. Today, the Anacortes refinery can process up to 120,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

The Anacortes refinery receives its oil for processing from a Canadian pipeline, tankers from Alaska and other foreign sources. The refinery supplies the states of Oregon and Washington with gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The refinery also manufactures asphalt, heavy fuel oils and liquefied petroleum gas.

Distribution

The Anacortes refinery sells asphalt, liquefied petroleum and diesel directly at the refinery. The refinery utilizes a third-party pipeline to ship gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to western Washington and Oregon. Tesoro also operates terminals at Port Angeles, Anacortes and Vancouver, Washington. A marine terminal is used to deliver refined products to barges and ships.

Health, Safety and the Environment

Tesoro regularly conducts health and safety audits to ensure it is not only compliant with standards, but also to find ways to improve. In 2006 and 2007, the Anacortes refinery was honored with a Gold Award for outstanding safety performance by the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.

In order to reduce air emissions, the Anacortes refinery built a state-of-the-art Flue Gas Scrubber in 2005. In 2006, the Anacortes refinery completed a modification of its diesel desulphurization unit as mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Since 2000, the Tesoro Anacortes refinery has been able to reduce its annual air emissions by 60 percent, and as a result has been honored repeatedly by a Washington State agency for volunteering to make improvements that help the environment.

Asbestos in Tesoro Corporation's Anacortes refinery

During much of the 20th century, asbestos was used as a building material when fire or excessive heat was a concern. Oil refineries such as Tesoro Corporation's Anacortes refinery, as a result, were frequently made with asbestos-containing materials. Resistance to reactive chemicals is one of the other properties of various types of amphibole asbestos. Ceiling tiles, insulation, work surfaces, even protective uniforms, therefore, often were made with the fibrous mineral. The ironic thing about asbestos is that although it does a fine job of protecting lives and property from the harm associated with high temperatures and combustion - it is one of the most effective insulators known and has been used for the purpose for centuries - at the same time it poses serious risks to people's well being.

For the most part, amosite was the kind of asbestos used. Amosite is one of the amphibole forms of asbestos and is commonly thought to be more apt to cause disease than the serpentine form. Although it was banned for construction purposes in the 1970s, amosite, in the form of asbestos transite, was utilized for decades in chemical plants, laboratories and oil refineries throughout the United States.

As with cement, asbestos transite could be molded into working surfaces, laminated and sprayed onto pipes and ductwork. This form of asbestos did not present a health hazard so long as it was solid. However, when this transite aged, it was prone to becoming powdery, which enabled the lethal, microscopic fibers to float into the atmosphere. When it is in this state, it is said to be friable, which means easily crushed. The insulation lining of industrial ovens also almost always were constructed with friable asbestos.

Why Is Friable Asbestos Dangerous?

Friable asbestos is a problem since in this condition the particles can be readily released in the environment. Diseases such as asbestosis are known to result from the inhalation of asbestos. Pleural mesothelioma, a rare but frequently fatal cancer affecting the mesothelium (the lining between the lungs and the pleural cavity), has been shown to be linked with inhaling asbestos. When those airborne particles land on food or drinks and are subsequently swallowed, pericardial or peritoneal mesothelioma may result, though they are less common than pleural mesothelioma.

In the past few decades scientists and researchers have discovered much information concerning the risks that accompany asbestos exposure, and as a result there are strict guidelines regulating its use. However, when many oil refineries were first operating, the use of asbestos was much more common. Any asbestos remaining from that period may still pose danger if safety procedures are not followed during demolition and remodeling projects.

Asbestos Exposure - a Hidden Danger

Asbestos-related diseases, unlike typical on-the-job injuries, which are easily observed and known about immediately following the incident, can take many, many years to manifest. The symptoms of asbestos-related diseases - shortness of breath (also known as dyspnea) and pain in the chest or abdomen - can easily be mistaken for the symptoms of other, less serious conditions. Men and women that worked at or lived near places like Tesoro Corporation's Anacortes refinery should notify their physicians about the chance of asbestos exposure. New treatments, like mesothelioma radiation are being developed, and early detection gives the patient the highest chance of overcoming the once always-fatal form of cancer. The mesothelioma survival rate traditionally has been grim, yet early diagnosis and consistent treatment can improve the prognosis for this disease.

Sources

Sources

Department of Ecology - Tesoro Refinery
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/industrial/oil_tesoro.html

Shell Oil - Puget Sound Refinery
http://www.shellpsr.com/go/doc/3/59127/

Tesoro Corporation - About Tesoro
http://www.tsocorp.com/TSOCorp/AboutUs/PRIMARYPAGE

Tesoro Corporation -Anacortes Refinery
http://www.tsocorp.com/TSOCorp/ProductsandServices/Refining/Anacorteswashingtonrefinery/AnacortesWashRefinery

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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