Anacortes, WA

Shell and Texaco Oil Refineries


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For decades, the pipes and equipment housed in large oil refineries like those in Anacortes, Washington were heavily insulated with asbestos.  Many workers at such refineries were exposed to asbestos, even if they themselves did not work directly with the insulation products. 

History

Two oil refineries have been in operation near Anacortes, Washington since the mid-1950s.  Because the names and ownership of the two facilities are so intertwined, it is easiest to discuss the two refineries together.

In 1955, Shell Oil Company constructed a new refinery at the northern end of March’s Point in Anacortes, Washington.  The facility processed 40,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

Three years later, in 1958, the Texas Company built an even larger 45,000 barrel per day refinery just to the south of the Shell facility to supply the west coast with Canadian crude oil.  Texaco’s original investment was $57 million and its annual payroll in the 1950s was $2 million.  By 1974, the Texaco facility’s capacity had increased to 78,000 barrels a day.  The refinery was first called Texaco Puget Sound Works, and then Puget Sound Plant.  From 1958 to 1998, the facility was known locally as the Texaco Anacortes Refinery. 

In 1998, Shell and Texaco entered into a joint venture called Equilon Enterprises.  The Texaco refinery in Anacortes, which had grown to processing 145,000 barrels per day, was a part of the Equilon joint venture.  The former Texaco refinery first became the Puget Sound Refining Company and then was called the Equilon Refinery until 2002.

For a time, Shell continued to operate its original refinery just to the north in addition to the former Texaco facility.  Federal regulations prevented Shell from operating two refineries so close to each other, however, so the original Shell refinery was sold to Tesoro Petroleum.

In March 2002, Texaco merged with Chevron.  At that point, Shell Oil Products US assumed full ownership of the Equilon refinery (formerly Texaco).  Shell continues to operate the facility today as the Shell Puget Sound Refinery.  It is the second largest refinery operating in Northern Puget Sound in Northwest Washington State.

The refinery employs more than 400 people directly and an additional several hundred contractors also work at the facility on an on-going basis.

Asbestos Contamination

The use of asbestos in the Shell and Texaco Anacortes refineries, as in other oil refineries, was commonplace.  The products were used throughout the facilities, anywhere that might be subject to excessively high heat – which was nearly everywhere in an oil refinery.  The asbestos insulation was installed when both Anacortes facilities were constructed and it was torn off and replaced with new asbestos insulation as time went by.  The use of so much asbestos in the refineries posed a serious health threat to thousands of workers there.  When asbestos insulation is dislodged or broken apart, the microscopic fibers inside the products are released into the environment, where they can easily be inhaled.  Once lodged in the lungs, asbestos can cause any number of health problems, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.  Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer virtually always caused by exposure to asbestos.  It is not necessary that a person work hands-on with asbestos products to become exposed.  Just working in an environment where asbestos particles are present is sufficient to place someone at risk for mesothelioma. 

If you would like further information about the presence of asbestos at the Shell and Texaco Anacortes Refineries, or about mesothelioma in general, please click here to contact a lawyer at Bergman, Draper & Frockt.

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