Today, Fina Oil and Chemical Company is owned by Total Petrochemicals, but the refinery in its current form is just one part of a long corporate history.
In 1956, the original company started out as American Petrofina, and was tied to a Belgian corporation. It soon acquired the Texas-based Panhandle Oil Company and business boomed. American Petrofina expanded by buying out numerous other oil and natural gas exploration and refining facilities. In 1963, the company took its first step into the chemicals business by acquiring Cosden Petroleum Corporation, also located in Texas.
Ten years later, the company bought the plant that would become the Fina Port Arthur refinery. It continued to expand in both oil refining and chemicals, mostly in Texas and Louisiana.
The company rebranded as Fina Oil and Chemical Company in 1985, of which the Port Arthur (Groves) refinery was a key asset. A merger in 1999 meant that the refinery was now run by TotalFina, which eventually was again renamed, this time as Total Petrochemicals.
Soon after, the company made a major investment by transforming the Port Arthur refinery into a deep conversion refinery. Deep conversion allows the use of heavy fractions to produce lighter, more marketable materials. Since then, production has continued to increase.
Unfortunately, throughout all this expansion, Fina Oil and Chemical Company was subjecting its workers to a horrible long-term health risk. The Port Arthur refinery was rife with asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous compound of minerals that was once widely used in construction. It’s easy to see why — asbestos was readily available and cheap.
At one time, it seemed liked a magic bullet for building durable, inexpensive facilities like the Port Arthur refinery. The dark side of asbestos wasn’t discovered until later, although there may have been early indications of the hazards it posed. Beginning in the 1970s, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission began to recognize its risks. That agency banned it for most uses. The Environmental Protection Agency added even stricter regulations, finding that exposure to asbestos increases the risk of cancer.
Workers at the Fina Oil and Chemical refinery were placed in serious danger due to the presence of asbestos in the facility at Groves. Asbestos eventually breaks down over time and with exposure to heat. So, when workers were tasked with breaking down construction materials (like walls, ducts and pipes), asbestos fibers were released into the air they breathed. Some fibers may have become lodged in lung tissue. Since asbestos fibers are so durable, that’s where the fibers stayed.
Over time, the asbestos exposure caused a deadly form of cancer in many workers: mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the thin membranes around the chest and lungs. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Sadly, the prognosis for mesothelioma patients is often very poor.
If you or a loved one ever worked at the Port Arthur refinery, you may have been affected by extended asbestos exposure. Fina Oil and Chemical Company failed to protect its workers from the dangers, and now many of those workers are suffering the tragic consequences. Symptoms of mesothelioma can take years to present, and some workers are not aware that their poor health could be linked to the work they were engaged in years in the past.
If this sounds familiar, you should seek legal advice with Kraft & Associates. If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos while working at the Fina Oil and Chemical Company or any other workplace and you have developed mesothelioma, you may be entitled to legal compensation. Call Kraft & Associates at (214)-999-9999 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.