Resources for Patients and their Families

World Oil

While World Oil Corp. owns a couple of refineries for petroleum and gas production, it is considered more of a fuel distributor, especially since it became a distributor for Exxon in Southern California in 1996. In addition to refining petroleum, the company manufactures asphalt, blocks and paving mixtures. It also owns a number of service stations, buildings and vacant lots.

The Flame of Sunland

Sunland Refinery in Bakersfield, California, is owned by World Oil Corporation. According to reports, poor management and 8,000 safety and pollution violations caused an explosion on March 30th, 1995, that killed a 22-year-old passing motorist.

Sunland was originally founded in 1929 and then bought by World Oil sometime in the late 1970s. Sunland received numerous citations but did not seem to address the problems. Now World Oil Corp. is trying to clean the contamination with continuous flames set to breakdown the toxins. Unfortunately, while the soil is getting clean, the air is getting dirty as a result of the cleanup.

A privately held company, World Oil Corp. is responsible for maintaining their refineries, including monitoring the cleanup efforts to contain and reduce contamination. In addition to retail and transportation ventures, they continue to be a major distributor for Exxon.

Asbestos and Oil Refineries

If heat or combustion was a danger, the mineral called asbestos was the insulating material preferred by builders for the majority of the 20th century. Materials made with asbestos, therefore, were commonly utilized when constructing oil refineries such as World Oil Corp. Another property of some kinds of the fibrous mineral is that they resist reactive chemicals. Ceiling tiles, insulation, bench tops, even protective garments, therefore, frequently contained the fibrous mineral. And while the asbestos did well in safeguarding against fire damage and in protecting life and property from high temperatures, the mineral also exposed those same people to serious health risks.

Much of this asbestos was of the amosite variety. When mixed with chrysotile, which is impervious to heat and bases but not as impervious to acidic compounds, the amphibole amosite creates materials that are especially good at protecting against corrosive substances. This amosite, in the form of asbestos transite, was used in oil refineries and chemical plants throughout the United States for decades before being outlawed as a construction material in the 1970s.

Asbestos transite could be sprayed onto pipes and ductwork, molded into working surfaces and laminated just like cement could. As long as asbestos transite remained solid, this form of asbestos posed little hazard. Microscopic fibers of asbestos are released into the atmosphere, however, as this transite gets older and becomes prone to becoming powdery. When it is in this state, it is said to be friable, or able to be reduced to powder by hand pressure alone. Laboratory and chemical plant ovens also often contained friable asbestos as part of their insulation linings.

The Dangers of Friable Asbestos

When they are friable, asbestos fibers are easily released into the atmosphere. Medical conditions like cancer can result from inhaling asbestos. Another unusual, and generally fatal, asbestos-related disease is a type of cancer called mesothelioma. The pleural form of the disease, one which affects the lining between the lungs and the chest cavity, is the most common. If those airborne particles land on food or drinks and are then swallowed, peritoneal or pericardial mesothelioma may occur, though they are rarer than pleural mesothelioma.

Because medical research yielded a better knowledge of the risks of asbestos exposure, employees today benefit from the protection offered by stringent guidelines regulating the use of asbestos. However, when places like World Oil's refineries were built, the use of asbestos was much more prevalent. And even now, asbestos from long ago may be the source of problems if it is released during demolition and remodeling jobs.

The Hidden Danger of Asbestos

As opposed to many workplace injuries, which are readily observed and known about soon after the causing incident, asbestos-related diseases can take many, many years to appear. It can also be challenging to identify asbestos-related ailments since the symptoms can be mistaken for the symptoms of other, less serious disorders. It is extremely important, therefore, that men and women that worked at or spent much time around sites like World Oil Corp. refineries ask their health care professionals for mesothelioma information. Such information can enable doctors to make a timely diagnosis; especially with mesothelioma, the sooner it is caught, the higher the odds of surviving or at least for treatments such as mesothelioma surgery.


Sources - Newspaper, The Oil Daily, October 3, 1996, Kovski, Alan, World Oil ready to spread Exxon brand in Southern California

Linked In - Companies, World Oil

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

University of Wisconsin - Asbestos Disposal

Valley Air - Recent News, News Clippings, 2002, Weiser, Matt, December 26, 2002, Flare burning grossly tainted soil

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