Asbestos was used extensively at the Tonawanda, NY Ashland Oil site, as it was in many refineries throughout the United States. As a result of asbestos exposure at the Ashland Oil jobsite, many workers developed mesothelioma, a cancer that is only caused by exposure to asbestos. In 1950, the Ashland Oil and Refining Company purchased Frontier Oil, located in Tonawanda, New York. This refinery produced 8,000 barrels of fuel a day, and was easily accessible due to its location on the Niagara River. Ashland Oil also purchased Frontier Oil’s subsidiary, Frontier Transportation that transported crude to Buffalo through the Erie Canal. Throughout its operation in Tonawanda, NY Ashland Oil employed dozens of workers including, electricians, millwrights, yardmen, maintenance personnel, cat cracker operators and pump operators, many of whom were regularly exposed to asbestos.
Prior to federal regulations placed on asbestos in the early 1970’s, asbestos could be found in materials such as pipe covering, gaskets, thermal insulation and packing material. Asbestos insulation covered miles of pipeline at the Tonawanda, NY Ashland Oil site. From the tank farm to the boiler house, to the cat cracker and crude unit, asbestos could also be found in gaskets, packing material for pumps and in the insulation that covered boilers and pipes. Asbestos gaskets were primarily used because of their durability and ability to withstand acid both in the lines and in the tanks that ran throughout a facility called the Alki Unit. Asbestos containing packing material was also utilized in the pumps to ensure they would not leak the sulfuric acid that they contained.
There were periods of time where the Ashland Oil site in Tonawanda, NY went into “turnaround,” an operation where the plant would shut down for three to four weeks approximately every few years to perform maintenance. During this time, worn asbestos insulation that covered pipes was torn-down, and workers would assist with dismantling and replacing the asbestos insulation. This process was extremely messy and would create enormous dust clouds. Many workers were not aware of the dangers of exposure to the asbestos dust, and carried on their work without masks or protective gear.
Our attorneys have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos containing products to which our clients were exposed. If you or a loved one once worked at the Tonawanda, NY Ashland Oil refinery and have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us for a free case evaluation.