According to the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, those who work in the oil industry are among those carrying the highest risk of asbestos exposure, and therefore the highest risk of developing an asbestos related disease or asbestos cancer.
Oil Rigs and Asbestos
Oil drilling is hazardous by its very nature. Even in crude form, it is highly flammable as well as toxic, which are the reasons asbestos-containing products were used as insulation. The problem is that over time, this material becomes brittle, causing it to flake off, producing asbestos dust. In this state, it is said to be friable.
Ironically, the protective gear issued by some oil companies were themselves the source of toxic asbestos. Asbestos fire-suits made prior to the 1980s could expose the wearer to fibers were they to become worn or damaged, and exposure to these fibers is known to lead to the wearer contracting an asbestos disease such as mesothelioma or asbestosis.
Bringing Suit Against an Oil Company
Like most asbestos suits, bringing action against an oil company or drilling contractor poses certain challenges – and the oil companies’ money and power are only part of it. The last twenty-five years or so have seen a veritable feeding frenzy of mergers and acquisitions. The result is that the company a plaintiff worked for back when the asbestos exposure took place is likely to have been taken over by another corporation, which in turn may very well have been bought out by a third corporation.
For example, Halliburton is a huge company with many, many subsidiaries that were acquired only in recent years. One example is Harbison-Walker, a provider of non-metallic materials suitable for use at high temperatures. The company merged with Dresser Industries in 1967, and was purchased by Global Industrial Technologies in 1993. In 1998, it was finally bought up by Halliburton; at the time, Harbison-Walker already had well over ten thousand asbestos claims against it.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos related illness, you should contact a mesothelioma lawyer for a free legal consultation.