Utah is home to the Wasatch Mountains, Baer and Avintaquin Canyons. However, the asbestos mineral naturally occurs within these picturesque sites, rendering Utah as home to both naturally occurring asbestos deposits as well as asbestos worksites. Asbestos was frequently used in power plants, refineries and factories across the state for its insulation qualities, and workers who handled it either in its natural state or as a manufactured product may have been put at risk for mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Cases in Utah
Between 1999 to 2015, there have been 259 Utah resident deaths from mesothelioma. The mesothelioma death rate in the state is 5.9 per million people, which is much lower than the national average.
With 7 naturally occurring asbestos deposits and mines known, the central and west counties of the state have slightly higher mesothelioma death rates from the rest, particularly Salt Lake County.
The Utah Supreme Court has established criteria that plaintiffs must meet to recover the costs of medical screening.
Mesothelioma claimants are required to prove that:
- Exposure to a toxic substance was caused by the defendant’s negligence which resulted in an increased risk of a serious disease
- Illness for which a medical test for early detection exists and for which early detection is beneficial
- Which test(s) has been prescribed by a qualified physician
It is promising to see that Utah laws are harsh in relation to negligent employers and there is favorable legal support in place for those affected by mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
A jury in Salt Lake City awarded a mesothelioma patient more than $5.2 million in damages in 2010, an example of the strength of victory for mesothelioma claimants.
Asbestos Use in Utah
There are several industries in Utah that have used asbestos throughout their operations over the decades, including oil, mining and chemical plants. Vermiculite Intermountain and Intermountain Products are 2 plants which were later purchased by Utah Power and Light, which closed operations in 1986.
Materials such as soil and gravel at Utah Power and Light were found to contain high quantities of asbestos, and as a result, a 2-month abatement project was launched by the EPA.
The oil industry is another significant user of asbestos for pipes and storage tanks, as asbestos can contain very flammable liquids. The American Oil Company, Chevron, Amoco and the Utah Oil Refining Company are all known to have exposed employees to asbestos in the past decades. Chemical plants are notorious for the use of asbestos as well, due its resistance against many chemical reactions. Chevron Chemical and National Lead and Chemical are examples of sites that are known to have also exposed their employees to the toxin.
Since Utah is home to several precious metal mines, miners and their families may have been exposed to asbestos both occurring naturally or through the machinery and tools used to mine. Bingham Consolidated Mining, the Empire Mining Company and Little Bell Consolidated Mining Company are all known to have exposed some of their employees to asbestos in the past decades.
Lastly, the Sharon Steel Corporation is one of the longest-operating sites of base metal production, operating from 1906 to the early 1970s. Large quantities of asbestos-containing materials were found at the site, as well as a number of contamination and leaks in the water and grounds surrounding the site.
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality oversees the regulations for asbestos across the state. As with most other states, Utah has adopted the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) that was created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to place administrative duties for the state’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ). The DAQ also oversees and manages the regulations regarding asbestos certification, air conservation and work practices.
Contractors and professionals who work with asbestos in Utah must have a state-issued license before beginning any demolition, renovation or repair projects as legislated by NESHAP. Any asbestos workers must meet all requirements in order to receive Utah asbestos certification, and then apply for a license. Once an asbestos worker is certified and licensed, they are required to provide a notification to the DAQ at least 10 days before their asbestos work starts.
Retaining a Utah Mesothelioma Lawyer
Mesothelioma litigation is an intricate and emotional journey to maneuver. Patients suffering from mesothelioma should seek an experienced and specialized mesothelioma attorney to retain. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer has the knowledge and resources to successfully negotiate the highest possible settlements in the quickest period of time.
If you developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure in Utah, please reach out to our Justice Support Team today.