Washington (WA) Asbestos Information:
Located in the mountainous Pacific Northwest, Washington state has its fair share of serpentine, from which chrysotile asbestos is produced. There are at least five “past producers” in the northern part of the state as well as numerous serpentine deposits in the central Cascades and in the Okanogan highlands in the northeastern region north of Spokane (itself only about 80 miles southwest of Libby, Montana). A major cluster of serpentine is located in the center of the state around Ellensburg and Wenatchee, although these have not been commercially exploited.
In part because of popular films and TV shows, the population of Washington State continues to increase, largely through immigration. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of Washington residents rose from 4.1 million to nearly 5.9 million, most of which is concentrated in the Puget Sound area. During this period, there were 1,776 victims that succumbed to some form of asbestos poisoning, including pleural plaques and asbestosis, or one of the forms of asbestos cancer, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Asbestosis was responsible for about 55% of these deaths, statewide. Figures for King County, center of Washington State’s maritime industries where 464 of these fatalities occurred, were roughly similar.
Shipbuilding in the Northwest
A study carried out at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, followed 4,700 former workers employed at a Coast Guard shipbuilding and repair facility. Duration of employment was a determining factor in the development of malignant mesothelioma, and the researchers observed “a significantly elevated mortality for lung cancer among machinists.” The conclusion: “Employment in this Coast Guard shipyard revealed a small but significant excess mortality from all causes, lung cancer and mesothelioma, most of which is probably related to asbestos exposure”.
According to some estimates, asbestos ultimately killed as many shipyard workers as there were service personnel killed in the line of duty during the Second World War. Asbestos insulation and pipe lagging were used in great amounts in the construction of sea-going vessels, and in the closed environment below decks, these fibers were liable to become very concentrated.
Paper and Pulp Mills
The timber industry has always been a large part of the economy in the Pacific Northwest, and the paper industry is among the secondary industries that are derivative of it. Asbestos-containing products may still be in any number of places in the buildings that house paper and pulp mills, as these industries have been around for many years in Northwest communities. In addition, some of the machinery and materials used in the paper-making process itself – primarily the drying felts and the adhesives used to affix them – contained asbestos.
Washington State has both hydroelectric and nuclear power plants (most of the latter have been shut down, however). Regardless of how they are run, power plants are known to be a serious hazard to workers when it comes to asbestos exposure. In one study conducted on Puerto Rican power plant employees, 13% showed abnormalities in their chest x-rays that suggested the early stages of asbestos disease.
Washington State is not an oil producer, but as part of the Pacific Rim and the first U.S. port of call for tankers from Alaska, it is home to numerous oil refineries.
Even without asbestos, working with petrochemicals is hazardous. It is highly volatile as well as toxic. Ironically, a great deal of asbestos exposure in the oil industry was due to the protective gear designed specifically to protect workers from injury. Overcoats, hoods and gloves were lined with asbestos, which could become friable if the outer fabric became worn or was ripped open.
The Aluminum Industry
A fair number of asbestos lawsuits in Washington have been filed by Washington mesothelioma lawyers on behalf of those who worked in one of the state’s several aluminum plants. Aluminum production has been an important industry since the Second World War; the manufacturing process requires high levels of heat – -not as hot as steel production, but hot enough to present a hazard, for which asbestos insulation seemed to be an appropriate solution.
Unfortunately, these insulating materials had a tendency to deteriorate over the years, crumbling into a friable state in which fibers were released into the air.
Washington (WA) Job Sites At Risk From Asbestos Exposure:
Over the course of the last century, hundreds of thousands of workers were exposed to asbestos while on the job – and for the most part, they were not warned. Below is a list of Job sites from the state of Washington (WA) where workers were potentially and unnecessarily put at risk:
Alcoa Aluminum: Wenatchee, WA
Kaiser Shipyards: Vancouver, WA
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard: Bremerton, WA
Todd Pacific Shipyards: Seattle, WA
Todds Seattle: Seattle, WA
Voyage Repair of Port Angeles: Port Angeles, WA
Washington (WA) Asbestos Cancer & Mesothelioma Doctors:
The diagnosis and treatment of asbestos-related cancers and other diseases is gradually becoming a sub-specialty in the field of medicine all its own. However, as of the present time, there is no medical degree that is specific to asbestos-related practice.
Most doctors focusing on asbestos disease today are trained in oncology, thoracic surgery, respiratory or occupational medicine, or some related field.
Washington (WA) 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.
Washington (WA) Mesothelioma Lawyer & Legal Resources:
A search through the Washington Federal District Court Cases for asbestos-related personal injury product liability lawsuits, such as mesothelioma lawsuits, brings up a list of seven lawsuits from 2006 and 2007. General Electric Company and C.H. Murphy / Clark-Ullman Inc. are defendants in multiple cases, although General Electric appears to just be petitioning for removal from asbestos litigation. The other defendants in these cases are Asbestos Corp. Ltd., Elliott Company, and IMO Industries Inc.
Washington is ranked seventh in the U.S. in asbestos-related deaths according to the Environmental Working Group. Of special concern is King County, which has the fourth-highest number of asbestos-related deaths in the U.S. This is likely because the area was home to plants that processed asbestos-containing vermiculite brought in from Libby, Montana. The area may also have been exposed to asbestos because it was a site of shipbuilding during World War II. At that time, the shipbuilding industry used asbestos products. From 1979 to 2001, there were 260 deaths from asbestosis in King County. During the same period 204 deaths in the county were attributed to malignant mesothelioma.
Washington has a number of known asbestos sites. There are multiple known sites in Anacortes, Ferndale, Goldendale, Richland, Tacoma, and Vancouver. Other known asbestos exposure sites in the state include the Bremerton Naval Shipyard and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, the Centralia Washington Public Power Plant in Centralia, the ARCO Oil Refinery and INTALCO Aluminum in Cherry Point, the FFTF Nuclear Power Plant in Hanford, the Chevron Chemical Plant and UNOCAL Chemical Plant in Kennewick, the Reynolds Metals Aluminum Plant in Longview, the Voyage Repair Station in Port Angeles, the Washington Public Power Plant in Satsup, the Puget Sound Bridge Yards and Chevron Cracking Plant in Seattle, the Fairchild Air Force Base and Kaiser Aluminum in Spokane, the Midnite Uranium Mine in Wellpinit, and the Alcoa Aluminum Plant and the Dow Chemical Plant in Wenatchee.
Individuals living or working near these areas should be checked regularly for signs of mesothelioma in order to hire a Washington mesothelioma lawyer and file any lawsuits within the state’s statute of limitations. 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.
A key mesothelioma lawsuit in Washington took place in 2007, when a Washington pipe fitter was awarded over $1 million in a lawsuit. The man worked in a pulp mill in Port Angeles between 1959 and 1992. During this time, he was exposed to asbestos because the pipes were covered with the material. In 1996, the plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of his exposure. According to Washington state law only those companies that actually supplied or produced the asbestos in question are legally liable. Tracking down the responsible parties was made difficult because the pulp mill has been closed for some time at the time of diagnosis. Several other companies responsible for causing the plaintiff’s mesothelioma were undergoing bankruptcy reorganization at the time of the verdict, but were still scheduled to pay mesothelioma settlements to the plaintiff.
Those interested in filing an asbestos cancer lawsuit in Washington state should know that the statute of limitations for personal injury law in Washington is three 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 should contact a Washington lawyer as soon as possible. Wrongful death cases follow the same statute of limitations and discovery rule. There is no special statute for asbestos cases in Washington.