Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma in Oklahoma
Oklahoma, the Sooner State, has long been seen as a place of opportunity. Oklahoma has an extensive history of industry—the state is one of the top five producers of oil in the United States, and has large power and manufacturing industries as well. For many decades, asbestos was frequently used in building materials and equipment in these popular Oklahoma industries, including oil refining. As a result, the health of Oklahoma workers and their families was put at risk for developing asbestos related diseases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer.
The experienced attorneys at MesoLawyersCare have recovered significant money for Oklahoma workers and their families who have been injured (often leading to premature deaths) by worksite exposure statewide. The following worksites are examples of some that have the most elevated risks for asbestos exposure to workers and their families in Oklahoma.
1. Oklahoma Ordnance Works – Pryor, OK
During World War II, the government built the Oklahoma Ordnance Works facility to manufacture smokeless powder and other military explosives to be used in the war efforts. In 1942, the plant expanded by constructing a TNT plant. After the war the plant was closed for several years, but reopened for a stint in the 1950s to produce ingredients for explosive powders. In the late 60s, the state of Oklahoma purchased a portion of the property from the federal government and turned it into an industrial park, housing more than 70 companies. Because the production of smokeless powder and other explosives require dealing with highly combustible materials, asbestos was used throughout the plant construction, and pipes, and in insulation and sealing materials of machinery because of its heat resistant quality. In manufacturing plants like the Oklahoma Ordnance Works facility, asbestos material often became airborne, endangering workers and their family members.
2. Phillips Petroleum – Bartlesville, OK
In 1917, two brothers, Frank and Lee Phillips, founded the Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville. The company was heavily involved in the natural gas industry and by 1925 was the largest producer of natural gas liquids. By the 1930s, due to the increasing demand for automobile fuel, the company entered the refining and retail gasoline business. Throughout much of the 20th century, Phillips expanded across the nation and into foreign countries exploring for oil and in 2002, Phillips merged with Conoco. As was common in oil refineries prior to the 1980s, Phillips used asbestos throughout their facilities as insulation and sealants in equipment that worked at extremely high temperatures, such as boilers, turbines, pumps, valves, steam traps, and compressors. The Oil Industry had knowledge of the hazards of asbestos but failed to take steps to adequately protect workers and their family members from asbestos dust. Unfortunately, the failure of oil companies, including Phillips Petroleum, to protect people from asbestos exposure has resulted in newly diagnosed cases of mesothelioma each year, including many Oklahoma residents.
3. Tosco Refinery – Duncan, OK
The Tosco Refinery was built in April 1920 by Rock Island Refining. In the 1940s, the refinery became part of the Defense Plant Corporation, supporting the nation’s efforts in World War II. Over the years ownership of the refinery changed several times, ultimately ending with the purchase by Tosco. Still the plant was very productive and during its heyday, it had about 375 employees. It also had a crude oil capacity of 47,500 barrels, which was the fourth-largest capacity in the state in the 1970s. The refinery closed in the 1980s, and was purchased by ConocoPhillip who decided to tear it down and use the property for other industrial purposes. Many 20th century oil refineries used asbestos containing materials primarily because of the need to insulate and seal high-heat machinery so it worked properly in the oil refining process. The Tosco Refinery workers were not warned about the dangers of asbestos and, although the refinery has long since closed, they are still at risk for developing mesothelioma even years after their exposure.
4. Mustang Power Plant – Oklahoma City, OK
The Mustang Power Plant in Oklahoma City, owned and operated by Oklahoma Gas and Electric, went online in the late 1950s. The company recently spent over $400 million updating the plant. In the past, the plant created energy with two steam turbine units. The plant’s power capacity grew from 56,000 kilowatts when it went online to 432 megawatts by the early 70s. With the latest major renovations, the old coal-fired steam turbine units were replaced with natural gas-fired units. However, plant employees who worked at the Mustang Power Plant prior to the 1980s, were likely exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. As with other power generation plants, the steam generators previously used at Mustang, produced steam at a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees (F). These intensely high temperatures prompted the use of asbestos throughout the facilities, which have caused illnesses in former workers. Workers inhaled asbestos dust generated during routine maintenance of machinery. Sadly, the power plant owners and operators showed more concern for the equipment used in their plants, than they did for the health of the workers.
5. Northeastern Station – Oologah, OK
The small town of Oologash, Oklahoma, with only 1,500 residents, is home to the Northeastern Station—a coal-fired power plant owned by American Electric Power. Of the four units, Units 3 and 4 are coal powered. Unit 4 was retired in 2017, and there are plans to retire Unit 3 within 10 years. At the Northeastern Station, which used over 4 million tons of coal annually, coal is burned in boilers at extreme temperatures to turn water into steam. The steam drives turbines, which drive a generator to produce electricity. Because of the high heat environment, before its use was limited in the 1980s, asbestos was used widely in power plants because its heat resistant properties kept plant machinery function properly. Plant workers were exposed to asbestos while working with and repairing boilers, pipes, gaskets, and other machinery containing or insulated with asbestos. The family members of these workers were also exposed to toxic asbestos dust as workers carried it home on their clothes. Exposure to asbestos put these workers and their family members at risks for developing asbestos related diseases including asbestosis and mesothelioma.
The MesoLawyersCare attorneys have won more than $10 billion dollars for people with mesothelioma and their loved ones. Our firms have successfully represented workers exposed to asbestos at worksites in Oklahoma and throughout the United States. For a free consultation or more information, fill out the short form on this page, have a live chat now with one of our dedicated patient advocates, or call us today.
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