Dow Texas City Operations
Established by the Union Carbide Corporation in 1941, the Texas City Complex initially provided materials for America’s World War II defense efforts. Since then the facility has grown to become the largest site under the Union Carbide Corporation. As of 2001 Union Carbide is now a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company. Texas City Operations currently occupy and control over 400 acres of land and employ 330 people. Their site includes eight manufacturing plants which produce over two billion pounds of product annually.
Texas City Operations produce more than 30 different chemical products. These products range from organic acids and vinyl acetate, to isopropanol and aldehydes. Those chemicals are then utilized in a variety of other products such as: pharmaceuticals, brake fluid, ink, coatings, solvents, and plastics. More specifically consumers use these items on a regular basis, as they can be found in bandages, chewing gum, cleaners, and mouthwash. The raw materials utilized in Texas City Operations production are primarily ethylene, propylene, and natural gas.
As an older facility, beginning operation in the 1940s this plant likely used materials that have since been regulated against, including asbestos. Asbestos was mainly used to insulate machinery and plumbing throughout various plants in the United States. It saw frequent use in factories into the 1970s, when it was first regulated by the EPA. Asbestos has long been known for its resistance to heat and fire, also possessing a natural resistance to chemicals. It poses an especially significant risk when fragmented. Fragmenting allows the chemical to enter the body and cause a variety of medical conditions, one of which being mesothelioma. Mesothelioma has a long latency period; therefore, former employees may have had prolonged exposure to asbestos and only now start to exhibit first symptoms.