New Mexico (NM) Asbestos Information:
Geology has made New Mexico one of the most scenically diverse states in the union. It has also produced five natural asbestos deposits.
For its size (the fifth largest state), New Mexico is very sparsely populated, with a current population of just under two million. Most of this population is concentrated in Albuquerque and Santa Fe; as a result, most of the state’s asbestos victims are also found in these areas.
For all its history and ancient culture, New Mexico is also home to space age technology. The world’s first atomic bomb was tested at White Sands in 1945. The Roswell Air Force Base is of course famous among those who believe in extraterrestrial visitors.
On a more down-to-earth note, the state has a number of oil refineries as well as two power plants at which asbestos has been noted as a problem.
The Power Plants
The Four Corners Power Plant and the San Juan Powerhouse are two locations at which asbestos is known to have been used. In 2003, the state’s largest provider of gas and electric utilities, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), was a named defendant in 20 asbestos lawsuits. Prior to that, the company had been sued over a case of secondary, or non-occupation exposure, in which asbestos fibers on an employee’s hair and clothing had caused injury to a family member.
In 2003, doctors in Puerto Rico performed a study on a large number of power plant workers. An examination of these workers’ chest x-rays revealed some type of abnormality in 13% of them. The results of this study support data by the Center for Health Statistics. This data indicate that over three percent of the power plant workers who die of work-related causes are victims of mesothelioma, a rare form of asbestos cancer.
Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used in power plants for over 50 years, not only for their flame-retardant characteristics, but for asbestos’ qualities as an electrical insulator as well. These ACM products included electric wiring, panel partitions, and electrical cloth as well as the building materials of the structure itself.
Even when far from the fields from which the substance is pumped, petroleum is a highly toxic and flammable substance; the “ancient sunlight” stored in it can be released all too easily, with disastrous results. For this reason, oil refineries have made extensive use of ACM building and insulation.
Ironically, part of the asbestos hazard to oil workers comes from the very gear that is designed to protect them from burn injuries. Asbestos was used to line overcoats and gloves; when these became worn or ripped open, asbestos fibers would be released into the air.
The Roswell Industrial Air Center
The general rule of thumb in determining whether asbestos was a danger or not is this: where heat or fire was a danger, ACMs were present. All petroleum-based fuels are extremely volatile, and aircraft fuel is more volatile than most.
Besides this, many buildings in general built prior to 1980 were constructed with ACM plaster, drywall, and even cement.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry asbestos map shows four deposits of chrysotile and two of amphibole minerals within the state. Two of the chrysotile deposits are in the southwestern area of the state near Lordsburg and Deming; an amphibole site is indicated further south in New Mexico’s “boot heel” in a desert region with virtually no human habitation. Another chrysotile deposit is located roughly halfway between El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruces about 15 miles north of the state line.
The remaining amphibole deposit is also in a very sparely populated part of the state in the vicinity of a town named Ruidoso; the other chrysotile site is about 30 miles to the northwest of this.
New Mexico (NM) Asbestos Cancer & Mesothelioma Doctors:
A number of New Mexico asbestos cases have been noteworthy. Among these was Martinez v. Maggiore, in which the Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department granted the Northeastern New Mexico Regional Landfill a permit to operate a solid waste facility near the Wagon Mound. In the spring of 1999, Northeastern New Mexico Regional Landfill began applying for modifications to its permit to allow it to process “special wastes”. Among other substances, they wanted to be able to handle asbestos waste. Northeastern New Mexico Regional Landfill ran a number of ads in local newspapers advising area residents about the proposal changes to the landfill. However, information about asbestos dangers was not included in the notice. The New Mexico court ultimately found that not only did Northeastern New Mexico Regional Landfill fail to publish in the notice in two places, but it also failed to explain what the “special waste” was. Because the display ad listed other substances but omitted reference to asbestos, a type of special waste that could be expected to cause particular concern to the general public, the subsequent public hearing about the proposed permit changes were deemed by the court to be ineffectual.
Those interested in filing New Mexico mesothelioma lawsuits should know that the statute of limitations for personal injury law in New Mexico is three years with a discovery rule that states that this amount of time begins when the problem (in this case the mesothelioma) either was discovered or should have been discovered, and that it is important to contact a New Mexico mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after diagnosis. Wrongful death cases fall under the same statute of limitations beginning with the date of death and including the standard discovery rule. There is no specific statute about asbestos in New Mexico.