Oil reserves were known to exist in the Alaskan area for many years prior to the first refineries being constructed. In 1968 vast quantities of oil was discovered off the Alaskan coast, and in 1977 operations began to recover the oil and build the refineries required to process the harvested crude oil. Richfield and Atlantic were two companies, one involved in technology to extract oil, the other in fuels, that came together to form the ARCO company. ARCO worked together with BP to develop the processes to extract the oil and the ARCO refinery became one of a many refineries to be constructed to deal with the flow of oil. The ARCO refinery provided employment for a vast number of individuals, both in the construction and maintenance of the refinery, and the subsequent running of the refinery. ARCO continued to grow and develop their company, and took control of the west region of the US in terms of oil production. In 2000, BP took over control of the ARCO name after ARCO became full members of the BP group of companies.
Those individuals employed to construct and manage the ARCO refinery were required to handle materials that had a high degree of heat resistance. Due to the risks associated with the flammability of petroleum oil and the various processes used through which the oil was extracted, processed, and transported onwards, materials were required that could withstand extreme temperatures. Asbestos was the ideal ingredient for many of the materials used in the refineries. It was widely recognized for its ability to hold in heat, making it the perfect choice for the construction of the refineries, as well as sealants for the various pipes and generators required. In addition to the internal fittings of the refinery, much of the interior such as walls, floors, and ceiling coverings, would have also contained asbestos. All of these areas were required to have a level of heat resistance in an attempt to create a safe environment for workers.
Once the construction of the refinery was complete workers were employed to run the refinery, these employees would have found themselves unknowingly exposed to the asbestos in the environment on a daily basis. Due the way asbestos particles float into the air and settle on surroundings including hair and clothing, workers would have not been able to avoid continued contact with the asbestos.
Both construction workers and day to day employees would have come into contact with a number of items, materials, and structures in the refinery including:
- External Building used for Offices etc
- Internal Walls, Floors, and Ceilings
- Pipes and Sealants used on Pipework
- Protective Heat Resistant Clothing (Masks, Gloves etc.)
Asbestos releases hundreds upon hundreds of its tiny particles as fibers, into the air and into our environment. These invisible fibers are inhaled by both those directly working with, or coming into contact with asbestos and they eventually settle in the lungs. Continued exposure over long periods of time, results in a high number of these fibers causing damage to the lung lining. The fibers are known to cause scarring and thickening of the lining, causing respiratory diseases and more serious asbestos associated illnesses such as the cancer Mesothelioma. Symptoms of asbestos related illnesses do not normally appear for many years after exposure, in some cases up to 30 years later.
Even as early as 1930 the U.S. government were aware of the risks associated with pronged exposure to asbestos. They were aware that exposure in industries such as the oil refinery industry, where workers were dealing with asbestos on a day to day basis, could result in serious health problems. It is not disputed that at one time asbestos was the best available product for many of the purposes it was used for, however the known dangers of asbestos were not always adequately managed leaving individuals at unnecessary risk of harm. The ARCO refinery did not take necessary steps to protect its workers from the risks of asbestos.
You may have heard stories of the dangers of asbestos in the media and have concerns that you or a loved one may have mesothelioma. We firmly believe that justice is deserved for all those who have been exposed to this dangerous material and we are here to listen to your concerns and to help. Whether you have unanswered questions or feel you are entitled to compensation we can guide and support you through the process. Not enough was done to protect those at risk from asbestos and we demand action be taken for all sufferers. Contact us today to discuss your options in confidence.