North Dakota (ND) Asbestos Information:
While North Dakota lost the fewest victims of any state to asbestos disease between 1980 and 2000 – fewer than five a year – it also has one of the lowest populations of all U.S. states. This population has actually declined over the past quarter century, falling from 653,000 to around 640,000 during that period.
These two facts are in fact related; the primary industry of North Dakota has always been agriculture; asbestos is typically not used extensively in farm-related occupations. The kind of high-skill, industrial jobs in which asbestos is an issue are not abundant in North Dakota, which is why so many young people have been leaving the state in order to seek more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.
Nonetheless, North Dakota has a number of power plants as well as a BP Amoco oil refinery. These two industries are perhaps the most dangerous when it comes to asbestos. The state has also been affected by asbestos contamination that originated from none other than the infamous W.R. Grace and Company mines in Libby, Montana.
Three jobsites at which asbestos was known to be a problem in North Dakota are the Coyote Station, Stanton Powerhouse and United Power.
Asbestos has been valued throughout the Industrial Age for its heat-resistant and fireproof characteristics; with the advent of widespread electrification, engineers discovered that it was an excellent insulator as well. Asbestos fibers were easy to work with, and the substance was inexpensive, requiring little initial investment.
Heat generation and the inherent dangers of electricity were naturally of great concern to the designers of power generation plants; therefore, many of the mechanical components used in these facilities were coated with a form of asbestos. This was usually either asbestos-impregnated cement or a spray-on substance developed and sold by W.R. Grace & Company called Monokote.
Asbestos insulation was used extensively throughout the structures that housed power plants as well in order to manage fire hazards. Boilers, turbines and generators were often insulated with asbestos; the mineral was also used in gaskets used in sealing valves, pumps and pipe fittings. Plant maintenance workers were obliged to cut, trim and file this gasket material in order to fit them properly–and a typical power generation plant often had several miles’ worth of such pipes and conduits.
In fact, there are few places in power plants where workers could totally escape asbestos hazards. Data gathered by the Center for Health Statistics indicate that three percent of the these workers who die of work-related causes are victims of and asbestos cancer such as mesothelioma.
A 2003 study in Puerto Rico bears this out; of the many power plant workers whose chest x-rays were examined, 13% were found to have “abnormalities” that were the precursor to an asbestos disease.
Oil refinery workers face many of the same asbestos risks as other construction industrial workers. Turning crude oil into gasoline and other petrochemicals requires heat and chemical applications; crude oil is also as volatile as any of its refined products. For these reasons, asbestos has been used in the construction of oil refineries from the time the industry got its start in the mid-19th century.
A British medical study of 45,000 oil refinery and petroleum distribution workers over several years showed that those who worked in oil refineries had “significantly elevated” rates of malignant mesothelioma and other cancers compared to the general population. Some of these victims had worked at the refineries for little over a year.
Vermiculite from Libby
Another source of asbestos exposure was asbestos-contaminated vermiculite ore shipped from the mines in Libby, Montana. Three sites in North Dakota, including Stanton, Minot, and Center, processed over 300 shipments totaling nearly 26,000 tons of vermiculite between 1948 and 1993. During the processing of the ore to produce attic insulation and other vermiculite products, asbestos was released into the air and exposed not only people who worked at the plants, but those who worked, went to school, or lived near them.
North Dakota Statistics
Among the nearly 100 victims of asbestos over the two decades prior to 2000, there were twice as many who suffered from a form of mesothelioma, such as pleural mesothelioma, as from asbestosis. Although asbestosis occurs far more frequently, the prognosis is not always as grim; if caught in time, the progression of the disease can be stopped and the victim can be treated and enjoy a normal life. Mesothelioma on the other hand is invariably fatal; on the average, victims succumb within 18 months of diagnosis.
North Dakota (ND) Asbestos Cancer & Mesothelioma Treatment Centers
Today, between 25 and 30% of all Americans will get some form of cancer during their lifetimes. There are many reasons for this, including the modern lifestyle and the poisons that have been put into the environment – of which asbestos is a prime example.
The number of clinics and hospitals that specialize in oncology have increased in response to the growing number of patients.
North Dakota (ND) Mesothelioma Lawyer & Legal Resources:
A search through the North Dakota Federal District Court Cases for asbestos-related personal injury product liability lawsuits brings up only one recent lawsuit: Bumgarner et al v. Bowman Sales & Service Inc. et al.
North Dakota is ranked 50 in the U.S. for mesothelioma cases. With a mesothelioma mortality rate of 7.92 per million, North Dakota has a crude mortality rank of 43 in the country.
There are a number of known North Dakota asbestos-exposed areas. These include Coyote Station in Beulah, BP Amoco in Mandan, and the Stanton Powerhouse and United Power in Stanton. Individuals living or working near these areas should be checked regularly for signs of mesothelioma in order to file any lawsuits within the state’s statute of limitations, and be sure to contact a North Dakota mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after a diagnosis in order to avoid missing any potential deadlines. While many of these sites have been inspected and some have been cleaned up, anyone who worked or lived in these areas before asbestos contamination was reported can still be affected. Also, it is important to keep in mind that these are only known asbestos sites. Other areas in the state may also contain asbestos but may not yet have been reported as such.
There are a number of key North Dakota asbestos cases. One of these was Anderson v. A.P.I. Company of Minnesota. In this case, Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation appealed an $85,000 pro-plaintiff jury verdict in the North Dakota Supreme Court. The case stemmed from a suit filed by Richard C. Anderson, who between 1959 and 1985 worked with boilers at the Minot Air Force Base. His job required him to handle pipe containing asbestos products, which was manufactured by Owens-Corning. In 1991, Anderson was diagnosed with asbestosis and filed suit against a number of companies, including Owens-Corning. After the jury returned a pro-plaintiff verdict, the company appealed, and the Supreme Court of the state found that the jury’s award of $25,000 for past economic damages was not supported by the evidence. Owens-Corning claimed the only evidence the plaintiff presented about past economic loss consisted of medical bills totaling less than $18,000. As a result of the ruling, the jury’s reward was reduced.
Another key case in the state took place in 1999 before the Supreme Court of North Dakota. In that case, Black v. Abex Corp., Rochelle Black had brought a suit against 48 asbestos manufacturers, alleging that her husband, Markus Black, had died of lung cancer as a result of handling asbestos products manufactured by these defendants. Markus was an Air Force auto mechanic from 1971 to 1986. He died of lung cancer in 1991; Rochelle Black’s suit alleged that his lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure at his workplace. A court initially dismissed her wrongful death and survival claims, but Black appealed before the Supreme Court of North Dakota. That court concluded that since Black had not asserted that she had included as defendants all possible manufacturers of the asbestos-containing products to which her husband was exposed during his career as a mechanic, alternative liability was inapplicable in the case. The Supreme Court of North Dakota therefore affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of Black’s market share and alternative liability claims.
Those interested in filing a mesothelioma lawsuit should know that the statute of limitations for personal injury law in North Dakota is two 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 therefore are encouraged to contact a North Dakota mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible. Wrongful death cases fall under the same statute of limitations beginning with the date of death and including the standard discovery rule. There is a special provision for asbestos that increases the statute of limitations to three years from the date of discovery.