Cenex is a member of a Fortune 500 company called CHS, Inc. that owns an oil refinery in Laurel, Montana. The plant was founded in 1930, and has thrived ever since. It currently produces 55,000 barrels of crude oil on a daily basis.
One of the high points for this refinery came in January of 2004 when the plant was recognized for contributing to the reduction of hazardous emission into the atmosphere. A company called JH Kelly LLC, put in a bid to design and manage the Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Clean Fuels Project that Cenex was ready to start with to accomplish that goal. They were soon given the contract, and were noted favorably for the efficient structures and equipment they created, which produce lower levels of pollution and help to keep the air in Laurel clean and toxin free.
2007 saw a fire at the Laurel Refinery, after high temperatures caused an internal transformer to completely shut down. This led to a heat exchanger igniting, and a mass evacuation of all the employees who were on duty at the time. No one was hurt in the blaze, but the damages took more than a week to repair and the plant had to partially shut down during this time.
The Laurel Refinery has had its fair share of problems over the years. In 2008, law enforcement officers were called to the plant to check on some potential registration problems with the employee vehicles. Reports indicate that during their investigation, the officers discovered up to 14 illegal immigrants working in the plant, some of whom were under the legal employment age. 9 people were taken into custody following the incident. A manager from the plant claimed that many of their workers had been hired through third party contracts, and that refinery officials had no idea people were working there illegally.
Among the issues the refinery has faced, one of the worst was the presence of asbestos. Asbestos is a material that was used in many construction and insulation products which were very popular in oil refineries because of their ability to tolerate high temperature environments. While these products appeared to be beneficial at first, it was later discovered that asbestos was actually a hazardous substance. Exposure to asbestos can lead to respiratory health issues, and a potentially fatal form of cancer called mesothelioma.
Anyone who worked at the Cenex plant while these products were in use could have been infected by asbestos. Because it is made up of tiny fibers that can easily attach to clothing or other items and be unknowingly transported to other locations, friends and loved one may have inadvertently been exposed as well. Employees of the refinery are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with their doctor to explain this situation, and find out if medical treatment will be necessary.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.