In 1878 construction was finished on the site that would become the Penreco oil refinery in Karns City, Pennsylvania. The original owner of the plant was the Pennsylvania Refining Company, which was founded by John and George Beck. The Pennzoil Products Company purchased the plant in 1972, and put it under the control of one of their subdivision companies called Penreco.
Penreco expanded their operation in 1985 when they bought a production facility for white oil and sulfonate called Marathon Morco. This company was formed by two former employees of Penreco back in the 1940's. Not only did this deal greatly expand the Penreco operation, it also gave them the ability to produce a much larger line of products.
Over the years the plant has grown and overcome many challenges. One of the biggest problems the refinery faced was the necessary removal of all asbestos materials from the premises. There was a time when most every refinery purchased products made from asbestos, primarily because they were able to resist the very hot temperatures that the plant's produced. It was later discovered that asbestos is actually an extremely hazardous material that can cause respiratory damage and even cancer. The plant was forced to temporarily halt production and actively remove and dispose of any asbestos products. Workers who were subjected to exposure to asbestos are encouraged to notify their healthcare providers.
In 2000, the plant attracted the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and they did some studies around the facility. Following the inspection, the EPA declared that there were some areas with high levels of contamination, due to leaks within the plant's equipment. There were two areas that were considered to be especially bad - both the upper and lower waste disposal areas. Penreco has been cooperating with the EPA to fix this problem, prevent future leakage and to clean up the contaminated areas.
Work at the plant came to an abrupt halt in 2006 when the refinery workers went on strike. This action lasted for three months as both sides tried to reach an agreeable conclusion. That May, plant owners threatened to replace all of the strikers with new employees, and the local union called an emergency meeting. They decided that it would be in everyone's best interest to call of the strike and return to work. Employees received three year agreements that did not have the terms they had hoped for, but did feature an agreement for annual raises of up to 2.5%.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.