Golden Eagle Refinery
The Golden Eagle refinery in Martinez, California was founded in 1913 by Associated Oil. Crude oil from the San Joaquin Valley was processed at the facility, and it was shipped in and out through an extensive network of pipelines. It is currently owned by Tesoro Corporation and has a daily output ability of 166,000 barrels of crude oil each day.
Tesoro has displayed a commitment to the safety and well being of their employees and the environment. They have won many accolades for their efforts, including The Gold Award for work place safety, The Award for Safety Achievement: 1+ Years which signifies that no employee missed a single day of due to a workplace death or injury for an entire year and The Meritorious Safety Performance Award for their overall employee safety record.
2006 was a great year for the company. They were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for having the fewest number of work site incidents in one year since the company was originally founded. Due to their outstanding safety practices in the shipping of hazardous materials without allowing any toxins to be accidentally released into the air, they also received the Union Pacific Chemical Transportation Safety Award. Tesoro made a $570 million investment in the company to improve emission controls, make sure the entire facility was compliant to all environmental standards and to upgrade equipment to create a "greener" facility.
While 2006 brought great things for the Golden Eagle refinery, the year before was a difficult one that saw several fires within the plant. In February the facility had to be shut down after a fire that followed a power outage at the plant. A large amount of hydrocarbons were released into the air, creating a concern for the health of nearby residents. One fire occurred in March when a flange within the piping system of a furnace malfunctioned. Workers were able to close down the furnace and control the fire before it was able to do a large amount of damage. Another fire began in August when a pool of oil ignited and created a blaze with thick black smoke that could be seen throughout the local community. No one was injured during the blaze, but complaints were registered about the resulting odor that permeated the air. September saw yet another fire at the plant when an explosion tore through an oil tanker. Flames shot up as high as 100 feet into the air, and a portion of the refinery had to be shut down while the flames were brought under control. October brought several small fires. A transfer pump suffered a leak that caused a fire to ignite on the 14th. On site crews were able to quickly bring the flames under control. On the 26th a power outage caused an ammonia recovery unit to shut down, and the gasoline inside ignited. This created a large cloud of smoke, and was a great concern because the product that was burning contained Sulfur Dioxide, a very hazardous material. Yet another fire started within a processing unit on the 30th, resulting in a large cloud of black smoke that contained dangerous toxins. Other small fires and hazardous emissions plagued the refinery throughout the year, and brought in many complaints and concerns from nearby communities.
The Martinez plant faced another major problem many years ago when scientists discovered that asbestos was a hazardous material. As with many other refineries, Tesoro had a variety of items made from asbestos in use throughout their work site. All of these products had to be removed, because the asbestos within them could be inadvertently inhaled by employees, and that could result in severe respiratory damage or the onset of cancer. Asbestos was eventually found to be a major cause of a disease called mesothelioma, which can be fatal. It can take many years for indications of these health problems to surface, so every employee of the plant who worked around the products that contained asbestos is urged to notify their doctor about the possibility that they were exposed to this dangerous material.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.