North Salt Lake Refinery
Big West Oil runs the gas station and travel plazas known as Flying J. They are currently listed as the number one diesel fuel distributor in all of North America. The company, which was founded in 1968, also runs an oil refinery in North Salt Lake City, Utah, which employs approximately 130 people at any given time and has a daily output of 35,000 barrels of crude oil each day.
The plant was originally built in 1949, and operated by the Western States Refinery. Over the years it was sold to Frontier Oil, Husky Oil, and finally ended up in the ownership of the Flying J Corporation around 1985. The facility has grown tremendously over the years, after an initial production level of 2,500 barrels of oil each day.
During these years of operation and transference of ownership, the plant did suffer through one serious health related problem. This came in the form of industrial products that were used for various purposes throughout the facility. These products were made out of a naturally occurring material called asbestos.
Asbestos is made out of tiny fibers that cling tightly together. It was mined for many years and used as a major ingredient in specialty products, most often insulation. The material was commonly utilized in products that were found in industrial setting such as oil refineries because it has the ability to withstand very high temperatures, and the equipment that processes oil produces an extreme amount of heat. Although asbestos helped to protect these items from the heat, over time they would naturally decay and break apart. When this happened, the fibers would be released into the air, where they could easily attach to clothing or be inhaled. Fibers that connected with uniforms or the personal property of plant employees were often transported to other locations, where they could break free and possibly be breathed in by unsuspecting individuals.
After asbestos has been inhaled, it remains within the respiratory system for several years. While there it can do a lot of damage, and even cause a form of cancer called mesothelioma. This can be a deadly disease, and it may take several years for the effects to be noticeable. For this reason any person who worked in or around the North Salt Lake refinery, or any other plant, should contact their healthcare provider and schedule an appointment for a check up based on the possibility of exposure.
Today the plant operates 365 days a year and provides a safe environment for the entire staff as well as the local community. Flying J travel plazas remain among the best known and visited gas station sites throughout the country.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.