Ashland Oil Incorporated faced a great dilemma when one of the tanks constructed by the company itself, ruptured while being filled. On January 2nd of 1988, employees of Ashland Oil were filling one of their tanks when the tank collapsed and released approximately three and a half million gallons of petroleum into nearby dikes. Of the initial spill, around three quarters of a million gallons of petroleum poured into the Monogahela River, located in Floreffe, Pennsylvania. It contaminated drinking sources for over a million people in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. The spill was the first major catastrophe of the company. The company had seen a great increase in revenues since it's birth nearly sixty-four years earlier. They had become a formidable foe with the major oil companies. This disaster would prove to be the worst thing the company could imagine.
Local authorities took responsibility for the initial on-scene response, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took over after that.
They were dispatched immediately following the incident. Contractors employed by Ashland performed the actual cleanup duties. The contractors used booms, vacuum trucks, and other equipment to retrieve the spilled oil, recovering about 20 percent of the oil that gushed into the river. EPA set up a river monitoring system to track the spill, as well as a sampling and analysis process to protect water supply.
The oil spill itself devastated the company's image but not nearly as much as the actions and facts that would unfold in the coming days. Issues began to arise of the company's strategy for building and obtaining tanks of this size and these questions lead to answers that many could not believe. When the first questions of the tank construction were brought about, the employees of Ashland published documents ensuring the tank construction...