Lake Charles Polyolefins Plant
The LyondellBasell Lake Charles Polyolefins Plant is a chemical processing/manufacturing plant located on Highway 108 in Westlake, Louisiana. The plant and the town of Westlake are on the banks of Lake Charles. Westlake has a population of about 4,500 residents. The plant processes crude oil into petroleum-based polymers. The Lake Charles Polyolefins Plant is one of several owned and operated by LyondellBasell.
The Lake Charles Polyolefins Plant has 230 employees. These employees receive a total of $13.6 million annually in regular pay and benefits. The plant contributes to the local economy by spending $16.3 million on local products and services every year. In addition, the plant pays over $1 million in local taxes every year, which goes toward improving schools and local government services.
As with any chemical processing plant, the Lake Charles plant works with a number of dangerous materials. Most of these materials are chemical in nature. Some are dangerous when received in raw form, and others are dangerous after being processed. One such contaminant that was once used in the plant is asbestos.
Commonly used as insulation in chemical plants built before 1980, asbestos was inexpensive and bought in bulk, making it a prized mineral. Not until the 1980s was it well-known that asbestos is actually a toxic mineral and can cause serious harm to those who come in contact with it. Once the fibers break free and become airborne, asbestos can be inhaled, grab onto hair and even attach to clothes. Mesothelioma is a common cancer many get from being in close contact with asbestos for an extended amount of time. It is a quick killer since the latency period of this disease can be anywhere from 20 to 50 years. Unfortunately, thanks to the long latency period, once a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma many conventional cancer treatments will be ineffective.