Tosco Corporation is a large, nationwide petroleum refiner. Key headquarters are located in California and Connecticut. The company currently focuses solely on petroleum-based fuels and fertilizers, but was once a key player in the push for alternative forms of energy. The company abandoned alternative energy research after public support dwindled in the early 1980s.
Tosco operates a refinery in the town of Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, which it acquired in 1996 from BP Oil. The refinery is now officially referred to as the Trainer Refinery.
Tosco Corporation was founded as the Oil Shale Corporation in 1955. The new company set up its headquarters in Los Angeles, California. In 1965, Tosco began its expansion, first joining with Atlantic Richfield. Then, in 1970, Tosco acquired the Signal Oil and Gas refinery in Bakersfield, California, setting itself up to become one of the largest refiners in the U.S.
The company adopted the name Tosco in 1976. Today, the company has a refining capacity of close to 1 million barrels of crude oil per day.
About Marcus Hook and Trainer, Pennsylvania
Marcus Hook is a community in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. It is home to approximately 2,200 residents. Median incomes and home prices are slightly lower in Marcus Hook than in Pennsylvania as a whole. The population of Marcus Hook is largely White and blue-collar, and statistics for college education are in the single digits. The oil refinery is a major employer in the town.
Nearby Trainer, Pennsylvania, has a population of approximately 1,800. Median incomes and home prices are generally a bit higher than Marcus Hook, but still lower than the state of Pennsylvania as a whole. As in Marcus Hook, the oil refinery is a major employer.
Oil Refineries and Asbestos
In much of the 1900s, asbestos was chosen as an insulator whenever fire or extreme heat was a risk. Plants like the Tosco Corporation Refinery in Marcus Hook, as a result, were generally made using materials that contained asbestos. Another property of certain types of the fibrous mineral is that they resist chemicals. Because of this, asbestos was used in protective clothes, lab equipment and bench tops. And while the asbestos did well in preventing fire damage and in protecting lives from extreme temperatures, the mineral also exposed people who used it or worked around it to significant health risks.
Most of this asbestos was of the amosite variety. When it is mixed with chrysotile, which is impervious to heat and bases but not as resistant to acids, the amphibole amosite creates products that are particularly good at protecting against corrosive substances. Used for decades in the form of asbestos-containing transite in laboratories and chemical plants throughout the United States, amosite was finally disallowed as a construction material in the 1970s.
As with cement, asbestos transite could be molded into working surfaces, sprayed onto ductwork and pipes and laminated. Generally, new items built with transite were innocuous since the asbestos particles were trapped in the transite. With age, however, this transite grows prone to becoming powdery, allowing microscopic fibers to flake off into the atmosphere. When it is in this state, it is said to be friable, which is defined as easy to crush. The insulation lining of laboratory and chemical plant kilns also almost always were fabricated with friable asbestos.
Why Is Friable Asbestos Dangerous?
Friable asbestos is dangerous since in this condition the particles are easily dispersed into the environment. If someone breathes these particles, they can damage the lungs, resulting in cancer or asbestosis. Mesothelioma, an unusual and almost always deadly cancer affecting the mesothelium (the tissue that lies between the lungs and the pleural cavity), has been shown to be linked with inhaling asbestos. When the airborne particles land on food or in beverages and are subsequently ingested, peritoneal or pericardial mesothelioma may occur, though they are less common than pleural mesothelioma.
Since research led to more knowledge of asbestos' serious effects on human health, employees today are protected by strict guidelines regulating how to use asbestos. When places like the Tosco Corporation Refinery in Marcus Hook were constructed, however, asbestos was much more prevalent. Any asbestos remaining from that period may still pose a health hazard if care is not taken during demolition projects.
Asbestos Exposure - a Hidden Danger
Asbestos-related diseases, unlike most work-related injuries, which are easily observed and known about soon after the causing incident, may take ten, twenty, or even thirty years to appear. Given such a lag time between exposure and the onset of symptoms, the worker might not even associate his or her current condition with work done up to 40 years earlier. Therefore, it is very important for all who worked in or resided near Oil Refineries such as the Tosco Corporation Refinery in Marcus Hook to ask their health care professionals for a mesothelioma treatment guide. Such information can assist physicians make accurate diagnoses; especially with mesothelioma, the earlier it is caught, the higher the chances of survival or at the least of enjoying an improved quality of life. When caught early there is a chance the disease can be treated; early diagnosis is crucial as there currently is no mesothelioma cure.Sources
City-data.com - Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania
City-data.com - Trainer, Pennsylvania
Funding Universe - Tosco Corporation
The New York Times - A Union Gives an Old Refinery a New Lease on Life
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal