An oil refinery in Convent, Louisiana was built in 1967 by the Texaco Corporation. By 1979, a large expansion project was underway and as of 1984 the size of the facility was nearly twice of what it originally was. Motiva Enterprises LLC purchased the plant in 1998, with Shell as a partner in the deal. This facility refines crude oils and has a daily output level of 235,000 barrels.
As the refinery continued to grow, products were put to use throughout the plant that contained a naturally occurring material called asbestos. This was used in many industrial items for a long time, but eventually its toxic nature was discovered. Studies showed that asbestos was linked to respiratory diseases and a mesothelioma cancer that can cause death. This posed an immediate danger to anyone who entered the Convent refinery, and every item containing this hazardous material was removed from the site.
Since then the facility has seen continued growth, but there have also been several problems for the plant. Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 and flooded much of Louisiana. High winds did massive damage to standing structures all across the state. Motiva was lucky and did not sustain as much injury as many other locations. Crews did have to make repairs and double check all of the plant's equipment, but within a few months the site was operating at full capacity.
A pump at the refinery was the source of a small fire in November of 2007. The pump was immediately shut down, and fire crews that work within the facility were called in to douse the blaze. They were able to put out the fire quickly before it had a chance to spread. No one was injured during the incident.
Motiva is currently dealing with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding a project in which they would take hazardous waste materials and convert them into a usable form of gasoline. Other environmental groups are opposed to this action, because there are not enough regulations regarding the conversion process or how the waste materials are to be stored. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) dictates how all hazardous materials may be stored, transported and used, but the EPA is ignoring the RCRA guidelines in this case. Organizations such as the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) and Sierra Club are fighting to force the EPA to recognize and enforce all typical RCRA standards.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.