Eagle Point Refinery
The Eagle Point Refinery located in New Jersey is owned and operated by the Sunoco, which is based in Pennsylvania. The company purchased the plant in 2004, and the deal increased their capacity for refining by up to 20%. This facility specializes in the production of toluene, xylene and benzene.
Three years after the plant was purchased, It suffered a major fire which was categorized as a 4 alarm status emergency. It began when lightning a large tank that was full of xylene, an extremely flammable chemical that is most often used as an additive to gasoline. The tank went up in a blaze, and the resulting smoke caused by the flames was reported to have been seen from miles away in every direction.
Fire fighting crews arrived on the scene quickly, and began to battle the blaze. After nearly four hours, the crews were able to successfully contain the fire, and because of their efforts and fast action, the fire did not spread beyond the tank that was the original source of the problem. The crew also sprayed a protective foam covering over nearby tanks to help ensure that the blaze did not spread.
No one was injured during the incident, but the tank was damaged and it held 1.5 million gallons of xylene. Following the blaze there was a great concern about the potential health hazard that may have been caused by the burning chemical, and residents were first urged to remain indoors. It was soon determined that no safety hazard was presented, and the air quality was measured on a regular basis and declared to be safe.
Although the incident with the fire in 2007 did not affect the health of anyone nearby, the Eagle Point Refinery employees have been faced with an extremely serious health hazard in the form of asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that was commonly used in a variety of construction products before it was determined to be toxic. Many of these products were purchased by oil refineries due to their ability to endure high temperatures. Over time, however, the asbestos would break up, and when this happens it can be inhaled and end up in the respiratory systems of unsuspecting employees. The asbestos can then become deadly, and is well known to cause a type of cancer known as mesothelioma.
Because of the severely hazardous nature of asbestos, any person who worked in the Eagle Point Refinery should talk to their doctor about the risk of cancer or other respiratory diseases they may be faced with.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.