Wilmington Refinery - Tesoro
The Tesoro Corporation runs several oil refineries, including one in Wilmington, California. They purchased the facility in 2007, and it has since become the third largest plant under their control. This location has a daily output level of 133,100 barrels of crude oil.
In February of 2007, disaster struck at the Tesoro owned Wilmington plant. A flash fire erupted within a 2,300- volt control panel as workers performed basic maintenance. The blaze was unexpected, and hit hard. As a flash fire, the flames quickly died back down, but four people were injured and taken to a local hospital. One was listed as being in serious condition upon arrival.
Three separate refineries are currently operating in the city of Wilmington. This one was built in the early 1900's, and has been greatly expanded and updated over the years. Gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and other petroleum products are manufactured at the site, and it is recognized for being among the first refineries to produce a clean burning type of diesel that had low levels of sulfur. Plant owners are currently working on a major renovation that will further reduce the amount of chemical emissions produced at the plant. Tesoro is spending more than 125 million on the project, and conducting in house audits to make sure they remain compliant with all current environmental regulations.
Before Tesoro owned the plant, there were health and environmental issues affecting the facility. California based environmental groups have criticized the location for storing hydrofluoric acid on the premises, which could kill many thousands of people following a unexpected gas leak, fire or terrorist attack. These groups have urged refinery owners across the state to no longer keep this substance in containment, and to switch to a safer alternative.
Another hazardous material that has been removed from the plant was a naturally occurring material called asbestos. It was used as a major component in many industrial products, primarily because of its ability to withstand the exorbitant temperatures that occur during the oil refining process. While these items worked well in the heat, over time they would start to crumble and fall apart. As the products began to decay, tiny bits of asbestos would be released into the atmosphere, and become subject to being inhaled by unsuspecting plant employees. Breathing in any amount of asbestos can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. It is known to do major internal damage, especially within the respiratory system, and to produce a life threatening form of cancer called mesothelioma.
All of the items that contained asbestos were removed from the plant, but any person who was exposed to them may still be at risk. Those who were employed while these products were in use should contact their doctor and arrange for a check up as soon as possible.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.