The enormous BP Amoco Oil Refinery in Texas City was built in 1934 by a company called Pan-American Refinery, which was at the time a subsidiary of Standard Oil of Indiana. The success of the refinery and the jobs it provided caused the population of Texas City to skyrocket.
During World War II, the port and the refinery became very important to the war effort, as they manufactured materials for the military. Pan-American Refinery eventually became Amoco, which ran the Texas City refinery for many years. However, the company failed to make many safety improvements to the facility. In 1991, they opted against replacing outdated blowout drums in an effort to save money. BP acquired Amoco for $61 billion in 1999. Like Amoco, BP avoided renovations in order to cut costs.
In 2005, tragedy struck as the Texas City refinery experienced an enormous explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 180. An investigation by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board revealed that BP’s inadequate safety standards had in part been responsible for the explosion. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the company a record total of $87 million, according to PBS Frontline. The refinery has also been implicated for excessive emissions. Eventually, in 2013, BP completed the sale of its Texas City refinery to Marathon Petroleum Corporation.
Asbestos was once a very common construction material. As it is very strong and resistant to heat and chemical exposure, it was heavily used at oil refineries all over the country as an insulator and on other work surfaces.
Since the BP Amoco Oil Refinery was constructed so long ago, the facility contained plenty of asbestos. The fibrous mineral is cheap and abundant. When used with extreme caution, it is still considered safe. However, workers at the Texas City refinery were heavily exposed to it, since the mineral does break down with time, and is eventually released into the air when materials that contain it are torn apart or accessed. So, when BP Amoco workers broke down drywall, insulation and ducts, for example, they were likely forced to inhale asbestos fibers.
Though asbestos was once thought to be harmless, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now considers any level of exposure to be unsafe. In the 1970s, the newly-formed EPA began to recognize the health risks associated with asbestos exposure. It introduced regulation to limit its use in building. OSHA also caught on to the need to protect workers from asbestos exposure. Following the Texas City refinery explosion in 2005, OSHA fined BP for failing to protect its workers from asbestos exposure.
Asbestos exposure is the chief cause of a rare and very serious form of cancer called mesothelioma. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain and sometimes weight loss. When malignant, it spreads through the thin tissue linings of the chest and lung area.
It can take more than 20 years for patients to begin experiencing symptoms, at which point the prognosis is often quite poor. The long period of time for symptoms to develop means that workers are usually unaware of the harm a job had been causing them until it is too late. Like other forms of cancer, mesothelioma can be treated through surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. However, the prognosis is usually poor even with aggressive treatment.
There is no known cure for mesothelioma. Discovering that you or a loved one is suffering because of a job at the Texas City refinery is a shocking and painful experience. At Kraft & Associates, we understand that this can be a very difficult time, and you may have many questions about what to do next.
If you or a loved one worked at the BP Amoco Texas City refinery and were exposed to asbestos, you may be entitled to compensation if you have developed mesothelioma. At Kraft & Associates, we can inform you about your legal options and help you fight to recover the compensation you deserve. Call us at (214)-999-9999 or contact us online to set up a free initial consultation.