Wyoming (WY) Asbestos Information:
For those who wonder about what the American West was like in the first part of the 19th Century, Wyoming is a good approximation. For its size (the 10th largest state at nearly 98,000 square miles), it is the least densely populated; less than half a million humans inhabit the state.
It should then come as no surprise that Wyoming also has the lowest rate of asbestos-related deaths; between 1980 and 2000, there were only 67 terminal victims of asbestos. These were roughly evenly divided between mesothelioma and asbestosis patients; most of these were in Laramie County (home of Cheyenne and Laramie) and Natrona County (home of Casper).
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry map of U.S. asbestos deposits, Wyoming’s naturally-occurring serpentine deposits (the source of chrysotile asbestos) are oriented along two lines running northwest to southeast. One of these is along the Rock Mountains, approximately parallel to the Continental Divide; the other roughly follows the path of U.S. Interstates 25 and 90. Because the locations are in areas that are sparsely populated, they pose little threat to human health.
Wyoming’s Asbestos Industries
Most industrial facilities in Wyoming are either power generating plants or oil refineries. Standard, Stouffer, Texaco and Sinclair all operate oil refineries within the state’s boundaries. Both of these are among the most dangerous kinds of job sites in terms of asbestos exposure.
Aside from the political and economic costs of petroleum, it is a highly volatile and toxic substance in all stages.
“Rock oil,” or petra oleum, is arguably a form of solar energy; it is derived from the ancient sunlight captured by plants via the process of photosynthesis during the Paleozoic Era, long before the dinosaurs. These plants died and subsequently went into the ground, where their remains were subject to geologic pressures which resulted in the carbon-based fuels the runs much of society today.
The problem is that the energy that was originally stored by these plants has changed its form dramatically, and is from a time that is hundreds of millions of years removed from the present. The result is a substance that is quite flammable and poisonous to the modern environment.
The same properties that make petroleum an effective source of fuel are the same that make it so dangerous to work with. In order to protect workers from burn injuries, it was necessary to insulate much of the machinery and equipment used in oil refining with asbestos.
The cost of this “protection” was made clear by a British study in 2003. The study followed the mortality rates of over 28,000 people who had worked at refineries in the refining department. This group suffered from significantly elevated mortality rates of both of the major types of asbestos cancer: Lung Cancer, and Malignant Mesothelioma.
Power plants are among the most hazardous jobsites according to findings of a Puerto Rican study in 2003. In this study, over 1,100 workers who had more than fifteen years experience had chest x-rays taken and analyzed. Thirteen percent of the x-rays had “abnormalities” consistent with asbestos disease.
Asbestos was used in any industry in which fire danger, corrosive chemicals or electrocution was a concern. While these asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) provide this protection admirably, the problem lies in the fact that they eventually start to break down and crumble into dust, releasing loose fibers into the environment. In this state, it is known as friable, and causes a serious health risk to anyone who is exposed.
Wyoming (WY) Mesothelioma Lawyer & Legal Resources:
A search through the Wyoming Federal District Court Cases for asbestos-related personal injury product liability, or mesothelioma lawsuits, brings up no recent lawsuits. However, that does not mean that asbestos is not a concern in the state. Wyoming is ranked 47 in the U.S. for mesothelioma cases. With a mesothelioma mortality rate of 13.2 per million, Wyoming has a crude mortality rank of 20 in the country.
In Wyoming, there are a number of known asbestos-exposed areas. These include the Coal-Fired Power Plant and the Gillette Electric Plant in Gillette, the Dave Johnson Coal-Fired Power Plant in Glenrock, Wyoming Refining in Newcastle, the Jim Bridger Power Plant in Rock Springs and the Sinclair Oil Refinery. Casper has four known asbestos-exposed areas: Little America Refining, Colorado-Ute Power, the Standard Oil Refinery, and the Texaco Oil Refinery. Cheyenne has three known asbestos-exposed areas: the Husky Oil Refinery, Fort Frances E. Warren, and Frontier. Green River has three known asbestos-exposed areas: the Allied Chemical (soda ash) Plant, the Coal-Fired Power Plant, and the Stouffer Chemical Plant.
Individuals living or working near these areas should be checked regularly for symptoms of mesothelioma in order to 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 Wyoming asbestos case was Gregory A. Popick, v. State Of Wyoming, Ex Rel., Wyoming Workers’ Safety And Compensation Division. In 1978, Gregory A. Popick held three separate jobs in Wyoming in the course of which he may have been exposed to asbestos. In the 1990s, Popick began experiencing breathing difficulties. In 2001, Popick sought medical treatment and was told he had symptoms consistent withasbestosis; in 2002 the diagnosis was confirmed. In 2003, he filed three injury reports with the Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division, claiming in each that his asbestosis was caused by his employment in Wyoming in 1978. The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division in turn issued three responsive final determination letters denying coverage to him because, it said, he did not provide enough evidence of work-related asbestos exposure in Wyoming; he failed to file a claim for benefits within one year after being diagnosed or within three years from the date of last exposure; and he had not reported the injuries to his employers and the Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division. After a district court upheld the denial of the claim, Popick filed an appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court. The Supreme Court determined that Wyoming’s laws require injured workers to report their injuries to their employers and the state and to file claims for benefits with the state, with both requirements subject to time limitations. The court also found that in cases involving latent diseases such as asbestosis, the time limit for filing the claim for benefits is determined by the law in effect at the time the claimant becomes aware of his condition. Since Popick waited for more than a year after his initial diagnosis of asbestosis to file his claims, Wyoming’s Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling to dismiss his claims.
Those interested in filing lawsuits should know that the statute of limitations for personal injury law in Wyoming is four 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. Therefore it is extremely important that you contact a Wyoming mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after your diagnosis in order to ensure that this deadline is not missed. Wrongful death cases are limited to a two-year statute of limitations following the same discovery rule. There is no special statute for asbestos cases in Wyoming.