Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is known for its long tradition of both military and civilian shipbuilding, stretching all the way back to Colonial times. Many workers in Massachusetts were exposed to asbestos from working at shipyards where asbestos was once used extensively for its heat- and fire-resistant properties. Massachusetts also has its share of power plants and other industrial sites that have left a legacy of asbestos-borne illness, including the James River Paper Mill and the Johns-Manville plant.
The skilled attorneys at MesoLawyersCare have recovered significant money for workers and their families who have been injured (often leading to untimely deaths) by worksite exposure to asbestos throughout the commonwealth of Massachusetts. The following five worksites represent some of the most elevated risks for asbestos exposure to past and present workers in Massachusetts.
1. Bethlehem Fore River Shipyard
The Fore River Shipyard (acquired by Bethlehem Steel in 1913) began operations in Braintree in 1883 before being relocated to Quincy Point in 1901. Before its closure in 1986, the facility was used to construct hundreds of civilian and military ships, including destroyers, battleships, submarines, and the Navy’s first aircraft carrier. Civilian vessels constructed at the site include merchant marine ships and LNG tankers. The shipyard employed more than 15,000 workers during the World War I effort and more than 17,000 during the buildup to World War II, becoming one of the world’s largest shipyards. As was the case with virtually all shipyards, many workers at the Fore River site (and their family members) were exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos, which was used throughout ships. Workers were put at risk when they worked with, or directly around, asbestos products that became dusty.
2. Boston Navy Yard
The Boston Navy Yard (known by locals as the Charlestown Navy Yard) was founded in 1801 to increase ship storage and maintenance capacity for U.S. naval battles against the French. It wasn’t until the 1890s that the site began to be utilized for the construction of naval vessels, primarily the steel-clad ships that were new at the time. But the site also continued to be a prime location for the repair and maintenance of ships, including British ships destroyed by the German military during World War I. The site closed down shortly after the end of the Vietnam War, but not before exposing a high number of workers and their family members to dangerous amounts of airborne asbestos fibers. Today, a single dry dock operates on the site for the maintenance of mostly historic vessels. Workers at the shipyard were not adequately warned about the hazards of asbestos by the companies that made and sold asbestos-containing materials and equipment used at the shipyard.
3. General Electric (Lynn)
General Electric (GE) was founded in New York in 1892 and quickly became one of America’s largest corporations, with operations throughout the country. GE’s product line became increasingly broad, with products ranging from plastics and lightbulbs to jet engines and even nuclear reactors for power plants. The massive company has faced claims by present and former workers (including the jet engine manufacturing facility in Lynn) claiming the company is liable for their asbestos-borne illnesses. Whether a worker was exposed to asbestos depended on the nature of the worker’s job and whether it involved contact with dusty asbestos-containing materials. The Lynn plant, which had roughly 13,000 workers at its peak in the mid-1980s, now has fewer than 3,000 employees. Due to its ability to withstand extremely high temperatures and fire, asbestos-containing parts were once used extensively in the construction of jet engines, potentially exposing workers at the site.
4. James River Paper Mill (Fitchburg)
The city of Fitchburg is situated along the Nashua River, which helped it become an industrial powerhouse since its founding in 1764. The James River Paper Mill, along with GE’s turbine plant, employed hundreds of workers before both facilities shut down in the 1980s. The paper mill began operation in the late 1800s and changed ownership throughout the years, including an acquisition by James River in 1972, before being acquired by FiberMark in 2014 and closing down one year later. Paper and wood pulp, paper mills used asbestos-containing materials as insulation and as components of machinery and building materials. Those who repaired and maintained equipment, such as boiler operators and pipefitters were often at risk for being exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. There were instances in which the paper industry also added asbestos as an ingredient to certain paper products.
5. Johns-Manville (Billerica)
The HW Johns-Manville Company was formed in 1901 through the merger of two existing manufacturing companies. The combined company made primarily asbestos-containing materials, including roofing material, insulation, acoustical products, asbestos cement, and eventually made asbestos-containing products for the U.S. military. In 1982, after scores of workers and people who used their products began developing serious illnesses, such as mesothelioma, the company filed for bankruptcy, developing a trust in 1988. The Billerica site is now a landfill for asbestos and managed by the EPA as a SuperFund site. Some companies remain liable in the civil litigation system for asbestos exposures that occurred at Johns-Manville plants, including suppliers of asbestos materials to the plant, as well as companies that conspired with Johns-Manville to conceal information about the hazards of asbestos during certain time periods.
The attorneys from MesoLawyersCare have recovered more than $10 billion dollars for people diagnosed with mesothelioma. Our firm has successfully represented workers exposed to asbestos at worksites in Massachusetts and throughout the United States. For more information or a free consultation, fill out the form on this page, have a live chat now with one of our representatives, or call our offices.
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