The Bayway Refining Company (alternately associated with Tosco, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon) is located on 1,300 acres in Linden, New Jersey. The site was originally operated by Exxon (starting in 1909) before being sold first to Tosco and then to ConocoPhillips.
The campus includes a refinery, tank fields, a distribution station, and two chemical plants. Plant capacity is a quarter million barrels of crude oil per day, making it one of the largest refineries in the northeast.
The Bayway Refinery is close to land used for residential, industrial and commercial purposes.
During the Exxon years, the site was at fault for a number of chemical spills, leaking pipes and discharges affecting surface water. Specific sources of contamination include two on-site lagoons, which have posed a serious threat to soil and groundwater. Though Exxon is no longer connected to the site, it remains involved in site remediation based on past pollution.
Soil and water contamination at the site is marked by benzene, chlorobenzene, arsenic and other chemicals associated with petroleum refining.
During the Tosco years, significant cleanup was attempted. A landfill was covered in order to prevent access from rainwater, damaged tanks were excavated and contaminated soil was removed or stabilized.
Groundwater monitoring and treatment is still continuing.
About Linden, New Jersey
Linden, New Jersey, is very close to New York City. The area has a rural past and was essentially an agricultural area for much of its history. In the 1700s and 1800s, the town began to grow as a flourishing community when it became an important stagecoach stop. In more recent industrialized history, Linden grew due to its proximity to New York City and various ports and harbors on the Atlantic seaboard. The community is ideally located for heavy industry.
Asbestos and Oil Refineries
For the majority of the 20th century, the mineral called asbestos was chosen as an insulator whenever flames or temperature extremes were a risk. Facilities such as Tosco Bayway Refining Company, therefore, were generally built using materials containing asbestos. One of the other properties of various kinds of asbestos is that they are unaffected by chemical reactions. Because of the kind of work that occurs at oil refineries, asbestos, therefore, appeared not only in factory buildings, but also in safety garments and coating materials. And though the asbestos served its purpose well in preventing the spread of fire and in protecting lives from extreme temperatures, the mineral also exposed people who used it or worked around it to significant health risks.
Amosite was frequently the kind of asbestos used in such facilities. When mixed with chrysotile, which is impervious to heat and bases but not as resistant to acids, amosite creates products that are particularly effective at preventing damage from corrosive substances. Used for many years in the form of asbestos-containing transite in chemical plants, laboratories and oil refineries throughout the US, amosite was eventually disallowed as a construction material in the 1970s.
Asbestos transite could be molded into working surfaces and laminated just as cement could. As a rule, new items built with transite were safe because the asbestos fibers were trapped in the transite. However, as this transite got older, it became prone to becoming powdery, which enabled the deadly, tiny fibers to flake off into the atmosphere. That is, such asbestos is friable, a term used to describe material that is easily pulverized. Laboratory and chemical plant kilns also often were constructed with friable asbestos as part of their insulation linings.
Why Is Friable Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos particles, when friable, can be easily dispersed in the environment. Breathing asbestos particles can result in diseases like cancer. Pleural mesothelioma, an unusual but frequently fatal cancer affecting the mesothelium (the tissue that lies between the lungs and the chest cavity), is strongly linked with asbestos exposure. Swallowing asbestos fibers, as can occur when those microscopic fibers enter the air and fall on food or in drinks, can be the cause of pericardial or peritoneal mesothelioma.
Increased pressure from researchers and the press led to rules controlling how to use asbestos. The use of asbestos was much more commonplace, however, when plants such as Tosco Bayway Refining Company were constructed. And in way too many instances people worked with materials containing asbestos when they did not have the protection of respirators or other protective gear.
The Lurking Danger of Asbestos
In contrast to most on-the-job injuries, which are readily observed and known about immediately following the causing incident, asbestos-related diseases can take many, many years to manifest. The symptoms of mesothelioma and asbestosis - pain in the chest, chronic coughing and dyspnea (i.e., shortness of breath) - can easily be confused with those of other conditions. It is vital, therefore, that folks that worked at or lived around sites like Tosco Bayway Refining Company ask their health care for a mesothelioma treatment guide. Such information can assist doctors make accurate diagnoses; especially with mesothelioma, the sooner the diagnosis, the better the odds of survival or at the least of enjoying an improved quality of life. There is no mesothelioma cure, but palliative treatments are available.Sources
The Center for Land Use Interpretation - Bayway Refinery 9 http://ludb.clui.org/ex/i/NJ3138/)
Environmental Protection Agency - Exxon Bayway Refining Company
City of Linden - History of Linden
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) - Laboratories and Shops
University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal