Canton, Ohio,
11:18 PM

Canton refinery celebrates history and safety

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, more than 460 refinery employees and on-site contractors gathered at Marathon Petroleum Corporation's (MPC's) refinery in Canton, Ohio, for a dual celebration to honor the 85-year anniversary and its quest to become a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) certified site. Canton has invested $5 million in safety enhancements that were directly identified through VPP efforts and have been waiting since 2010 to finally be assessed for VPP certification. The Canton refinery’s site assessment by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) took place the week of Oct. 31.

“Obtaining the VPP certification doesn’t end there,” noted Canton General Manager Brad McKain. “Improving safety is an ongoing process which we will continuously work to improve upon. The heart of VPP is strong employee involvement. VPP is recognition for what each of us already does. Everyone at the Canton refinery lives safety daily and being VPP certified will recognize our efforts to strive for safety excellence.”

Attendees enjoyed food and browsing displays related to both VPP and Canton refinery history, with many photos and pieces of memorabilia supplied by employees themselves. Employees on shift at the time of the celebration weren’t left out, as meals were delivered to their operational areas.


The Allegheny-Arrow Oil Company began construction of the refinery in 1929 on a 21-acre tract of land near the railroad yards, and plans for a $600,000 refinery were announced in Canton’s two newspapers in the summer of 1929. The Canton refinery was operational in 1931, with initial refining capacity estimated at 780 barrels per day (bpd).

After being idled for a couple of years after the stock market crash, Canton resumed operations in 1936. In 1937, it was purchased by Allied Oil Company, which then merged with Ashland Oil Refining Company in 1948. In 1950, the Canton refinery went through a two-year major modernization and expansion. Capacity was increased to 25,000 bpd.

In 1957, Ashland constructed a 7,000 bpd catalytic reformer, which increased rated capacity to 34,000 bpd. The Canton Refinery was operated by Ashland until Marathon Oil and Ashland Inc. merged their downstream business in 1998, and then became wholly owned by Marathon in 2005. The company has continued to invest in the facility with the additions of the distillate hydrotreater in 2009, the mobile source air toxics tower in 2011 and the  condensate splitter in 2014.