Asbestos Discovery Halts Work at WY Refinery

A construction crew demolishing a heater at an oil refinery in Rawlins, Wyoming, discovered asbestos sealant in the machinery they were dismantling, halting work at the site and prompting the evacuation of between 200 and 300 workers, according to Harold Newbrough, emergency management coordinator for Carbon County. The construction workers at the Sinclair Oil Refinery were already wearing protective clothing while demolishing the process heater assembly at the plant, because the work involved exposure to dusty conditions. The asbestos sealant was used to insulate and fireproof areas of the heater.

After the discovery, the workers were sent to the showers and their clothing was removed and cleaned. Jorge Elizondo, a subcontractor who was one of the evacuated workers, praised the company’s quick handling of the incident and following of procedures. “[They] did pretty good, they take all the precautions.” Newbrough also praised the company, saying the refinery took the necessary steps. “They did everything they needed to do. As a matter of fact, they probably did a little more.” According to Newbrough, representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration arrived at the plant on the following Monday to ensure that the asbestos removal was handled properly.