In 1931, the Allegheny-Arrow Oil Company built an oil refinery in Canton, Ohio. It was shut down the very next year due to the poor economic environment of the Great Depression. This could have been the end of the plant, but in 1936 it was purchased by the Allied Oil Company, and it was in operation again by the following year.
The Ashland Oil Company bought the facility in 1948 and continued operations in Canton. Ashland put a lot of time and money into modernizing the plant and increasing the level of oil production. One result of this was the final production rate of 78,000 barrels of oil on a daily basis. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) went after the Canton Refinery because in 1990 one of their large storage tanks had a leak that allowed 1.5 million gallons of their gasoline product to leak into standing water that was just below the tank. The water became contaminated, and survey crews were brought in to determine the extent of the damage. Marathon was able to reclaim nearly 600,000 gallons of petroleum from the water, because it had remained floating on the surface, but they were also responsible to dealing with the contaminated water supply. Aside from fixing the damaged tank, Ashland was forced to pay a civil penalty of $80,000, give $75,000 to EPA's Clean Diesel School Bus Program and donate $220,000 that was to go towards installing water lines within Canton.
1998 saw the merger of the Ashland Oil Company with Marathon Oil Company, which led to the final formation of Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC, the company that still runs the refinery today. Currently the plant has the ability to produce 78,000 barrels of oil on a daily basis.
Since taking over the plant, Marathon has continually striven to improve the safety record and overall condition of the facility. Their efforts have paid off with a notable lack of injuries or accidents within the plants, and several esteemed recognitions. In 2005, the refinery was given the prestigious Responsible Care Achievement Award, as awarded by the Synthetic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA). The award signifies that the plant has met and exceeded safety requirements and has clean health and environmental records. In 2006 the plant was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with a STAR Award. These awards are given to companies that operate at a highly efficient level and work to utilize energy in a conservative and effective manner. The National Petroleum Refiners Association has also recognized the Canton Refinery on several occasions for its continued commitment to safe operating standards.
Today the refinery provides an example of a safe and secure work place, but that was not always the case. At one time the plant utilized products that were made out of asbestos, a material that was commonly found in refineries because of its ability to endure excessive heat. Although products made with asbestos worked well at the plants, they inadvertently provided a hazardous atmosphere. Over time the products were subject to crumbling, and when that happens the asbestos is released into the atmosphere, where it can easily be inhaled and cause serious respiratory disorder and even the cancer mesothelioma. Plant employees who worked at the Canton Refinery are urged to notify their doctors about their possible exposure to this toxin.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.