The Pensacola Naval Air Station was created in the year 1862 in Pensacola Bay, Florida not far from Mobile, Alabama. It was first used to help suppress piracy and the slave trade in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. In 1922, the area closed as a Navy Yard but reopened as an Aviation Unit that was previously stationed in Annapolis, Maryland. The training provided here for Navy personnel involved plane and engine orientation, navigation, signaling, radio, aerial gunning and bombing.
It was used as the central training facility for all operations relating to naval air training during both World Wars. A total of 12,000 men were trained here in 1944. The base underwent a transition from its original use of propeller planes to jet engines during the time of the Korean War. This Naval station became known as the “Cradle of Aviation” and is now also the home of the National Museum of Naval Aviation. It is one of the leading United States military bases.
Many workers here were exposed to asbestos, which was commonly used in the Navy until the 1970s. Those most likely to be affected were electricians, pipe fitters and welders as well as anyone handling the instillation or removal of asbestos products. Asbestos is a highly dangerous, cancer-causing agent. When asbestos dust is inhaled, it causes permanent damage to the lungs and other internal tissues. Exposure to asbestos is the proven cause of Mesothelioma, a rare and deadly asbestos cancer, and other lung cancers and diseases.
The Environmental Protection Agency has recently named the Pensacola Naval Air Station and surrounding territory as a Superfund Site. This is due to the extremely high levels of toxic pollution and hazardous chemicals in the area and their harm to the environment there. This means they have determined that the polluted area is severe enough to make those on the site and others living in the surrounding area more vulnerable to sickness as well as loss of home values. This federal designation is meant to protect those in such areas and provide compensation if sickness or a substantial loss in property value occurs due to the pollution there. The known contaminants in the area include ammonia, cyanide, PCBs, phenols, pesticides, and chlorinated and nonchlorinated solvents as well as asbestos.
Naval bases such as these commonly used high amounts of asbestos for many of their products, which means thousands of Navy veterans were exposed for many years in areas all across the country. Other known exposure sites in the state of Florida include Atlantic Dry Dock, Gulf Marine Repair, Hendry Corporation, Mayport Naval Station, Offshore Shipbuilding, Inc., and Tampa Bay Shipbuilding. Working in any of these building sites up through the 1970s puts you at high risk for developing malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other lung cancers and diseases. If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos, it is highly recommended that you seek prompt medical advice and regular medical screenings.