Chevron Pascagoula Refinery

In 2004, the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery celebrated 40 years of service. Since 1963, when the Pascagoula Refinery in Mississippi was created and began operation by Chevron, the refinery has increased in size to become the largest United States refinery of the corporation, as well as one of the largest refineries for petroleum in the United States, where it has achieved a top ten ranking.

The Pascagoula Refinery is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Up to 13.9 million gallons, or 330,000 barrels, of crude oil are processed each day when petroleum chemicals and products are made; these products can then be used to create a number of other useful products. For reference, a barrel of petroleum is equivalent to 42 gallons of the liquid. The Pascagoula Refinery is classified primarily as a refinery for fuels; this means that the primary products of the refinery are diesel fuel, jet fuel, and motor gasoline. Additional products produced include bunker fuel, aviation gasoline, fuel oils, LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas, sulfur, and petroleum coke.  The refinery is also responsible for the manufacture of products that lead to paraxylene. Paraxylene is a compound that is used for feed stock in both the plastics and textile industries, as well as ethylbenzene and benzene, both of which are used to create a wide span of products such as nylons, sporting goods, pharmaceuticals, and automobile tires.

The manufacturing, shipping, and storing facilities of the Pascagoula Refinery involve 20 process units for refining as well as an excess of 200 tanks that have a capacity of up to 600 million gallons of petroleum, along with seven berths and four marine terminals. Standard Oil of Kentucky, a forerunner of Chevron, broke ground on the Pascagoula refinery in 1961.  Unfortunately, many refineries built during that time contained a fibrous mineral called asbestos in insulation and other materials.  The temperatures and chemicals needed to refine oil can be hazardous to machinery and workers alike, and asbestos seemed to be effective to protect against both.  However, what some employers knew and their employees didn’t was that asbestos fibers, when inhaled into the lungs, could cause serious health problems like asbestosis and the cancer mesothelioma. Mesothelioma usually exhibits a long latency period, and is especially common in plant workers who underwent prolonged asbestos exposure.  Its long latency period means that former employees might just now be exhibiting first symptoms of mesothelioma today.