Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or EPA published a news release announcing the September settlement agreement to recover costs the agency incurred when it cleaned up contaminated soil at the site of a former Wyoming oil refinery. According to the release, Sinclair Casper Refining Company, the successor to Little America Refining Company, paid $655,000 to reimburse EPA for asbestos clean-up expenses at the former Empire State Oil Company Refinery Site, a Superfund site in Thermopolis, Wyoming.
Asbestos Contamination from Oil-Refinery Demolition
Reportedly, the oil refinery was in operation from 1920 to 1969, after which it was demolished. A large amount of pipe insulation that contained asbestos was removed from the plant’s equipment and left on the ground. In 2013, EPA removed 4,000 cubic yards of “materials and soils” containing asbestos contamination, replacing it with clean soil from nearby property.
CERCLA and Superfund
The clean up and cost reimbursement was conducted according to the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Recovery Act, often called CERCLA, which established the Superfund program in 1980. Under Superfund, the federal government identifies the most polluted and dangerously contaminated sites in the country. Locations declared Superfund sites begin a long, complex planning process for eventual cleanup.
Reimbursed government clean-up costs as in this instance are deposited into a fund that is used for ongoing remediation of other Superfund sites.
EPA provides a detailed web page explaining the treatment of asbestos contamination at Superfund sites.
Seek Legal Advice
Anyone who worked at an oil refinery could have been exposed to asbestos, which was extensively used as an insulating material on pipes, boilers and other hot equipment in the industrial process. Former oil refinery employees who find themselves facing asbestos-related diseases should seek immediate legal advice to understand what potential legal remedies may be available.