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Crude Oil Refinery Operations 1994

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  • Description: The approximately 145 operating petroleum refineries in the United States account for significant releases of pollution into the environment and many threats to worker health and safety. The petroleum industry began with the successful drilling of the first commercial oil well in 1859, and the opening of the first refinery two years later to process the crude into kerosene. The original requirement was to produce kerosene as a cheaper and better source of light than whale oil. The development of the internal combustion engine led to the production of gasoline and diesel fuels. The evolution of the airplane created a need first for high-octane aviation gasoline and then for jet fuel, a sophisticated form of the original product, kerosene. Present-day refineries produce a variety of products including many required as feedstock for the petrochemical industry. The evolution of petroleum refining from simple distillation to today's sophisticated processes has created a need for health and safety management procedures and safe work practices. To those unfamiliar with the industry, petroleum refineries may appear to be complex and confusing places. Refining is the processing of one complex mixture of hydrocarbons into a number of other complex mixtures of hydrocarbons. The safe and orderly processing of crude oil into flammable gases and liquids at high temperatures and pressures using vessels, equipment, and piping subjected to stress and corrosion requires considerable knowledge, control, and expertise. For more on the workplace and environmental hazards at oil refineries, go to the OSHA website at and the EPA at
    This is clipped from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 1994 video Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Training Series, Highlights: Protecting the Environment from Oil Spills. The entire video is available at the Internet Archives.
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