North Dakota is known for its sprawling roads and golden fields, supplying critical staple crops that include almost half of America’s spring wheat. The state economy is strong, unemployment low, and opportunities are abound, largely due to a recent surge in the state’s oil production. However, North Dakota is also facing a health crisis as hundreds of citizens are being diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure that occurred decades ago.
Mesothelioma Cases in North Dakota
Unknown at the time, many honest jobs before asbestos regulation in the 1980s infected people with asbestos fibers that can transform into mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer, 10 to 50 years later. North Dakota has fewer mesothelioma cases than other states, but that fact is hardly reassuring for the approximate 25 people in the state who die each year from mesothelioma.
The counties with the highest number of people impacted by asbestos-related deaths are, in order of frequency:
- Burleigh County
- Cass County
- Ward County
- Grand Forks County
- Morton County
However, mesothelioma cases have been reported all across the state.
Many of North Dakota’s mesothelioma cases originate from military service or work in power plants and oil refineries. Although asbestos use is now regulated across the United States, this wasn’t the case before the 1980s, when asbestos was used in countless manufacturing and industrial applications. It is only decades later that hard-working Americans are seeing dark consequences to their years of loyal service.
Asbestos Use in North Dakota
North Dakota is an expansive state with plenty of space for companies that utilized asbestos to set up shop. Vermiculite processing, military operations, power plant, and oil refineries are all known industries in North Dakota that put workers in direct contact with asbestos-containing materials.
Vermiculite is an insulating mineral that often contains tremolite, a particularly dangerous type of amphibole asbestos. North Dakota processed vermiculite that was shipped in from Montana, with full-scale processing facilities operating out of several cities. It’s estimated that over 26,000 tons of vermiculite was imported into North Dakota and processed by local workers, exposing these people and those around them to asbestos.
North Dakota Military Bases
Military bases and missile silos were other common sources of asbestos contamination in North Dakota. The Grand Forks military bases and nearby missile sites exposed local workers and their families, especially during the Cold War. North Dakota’s military facilities were built with asbestos in the insulation and other building materials, potentially exposing military personnel and their families to asbestos on a regular, recurring basis.
Other Asbestos Industries in North Dakota
Many power plants and oil refineries in North Dakota also used asbestos, because of its insulating materials. Asbestos insulation helped prevent the risk of fire in these environments were electrical sparks could otherwise have catastrophic effects.
Unfortunately, there are dozens of additional occupations that also put North Dakota’s residents at risk of developing mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, including:
- Construction and renovation workers
- Metal workers, mechanics and technicians
- Chemical and industrial workers
- Landfill workers
- Railroad workers
North Dakota is also known to have erionite, a naturally occurring mineral similar to asbestos that can also result in mesothelioma. Individuals who live or work close to erionite may also be at risk.
North Dakota Asbestos Laws and Regulations
North Dakota heavily relies on federal laws and statutes for regulating mesothelioma, likely to the relatively low amount of people impacted by the disease. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulate the use of asbestos within North Dakota, along with the state’s agency–the North Dakota Department of Health, Asbestos Control.
All public and commercial buildings, as well as residential buildings with more than four units, are regulated by North Dakota statutes. These buildings are required to undergo inspection for asbestos before renovation or demolition. If asbestos is found, additional measures are required, and asbestos must be brought to an approved landfill.
North Dakota has one of the most forgiving statutes of limitations for mesothelioma victims, allowing patients 6 years from their diagnosis to pursue legal compensation. However, family members only have 2 years after death for a wrongful death claim.
Retaining a North Dakota Mesothelioma Lawyer
Mesothelioma law in North Dakota can be complex, but the right lawyer can help you navigate the courts and receive compensation for your illness. Have you been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure in North Dakota? Contact our Justice Support team to learn more about getting the compensation you deserve.