Top Three Job Sites In West Virginia With Asbestos Exposure
According to Environmental Working Group reports, 706 have died in West Virginia’s due to mesothelioma and asbestosis. West Virginia is ranked 27th in the U.S. for asbestos-related deaths. West Virginia does not have any known natural deposits of asbestos, according to the United States Geological Survey ). However, numerous mining and manufacturing companies and the military exposed residents and workers to asbestos through negligent work practices, use, and disposal. The top three sites with asbestos exposure in the state are in the following industries.
Over 117 coal seams have been mined in West Virginia. Miners were at risk of inhaling asbestos as coal was pulled from the earth and processed. Additionally, brake linings, welding blankets, pipe insulation, and transit panels from mines have all been found to contain asbestos. Companies with known asbestos exposure include Union Carbide, ACME Cabin Creek Consolidated Coal Company, Putnam Coal Mines, West Virginia Southern Coal Company, P & H Mine, Valley Camp Coal Company, and Ben Franklin Coal Company.
Boilers that produced steam for glass products manufacturing were covered in asbestos-containing block insulation, and pipes were sealed with asbestos-containing gaskets. Asbestos-containing insulating cement was used to cover pipe elbows and valves. Glass workers frequently wore asbestos-containing protective clothing to protect them from molten glass.
West Virginia is home to numerous glass manufacturing companies.
Companies with known asbestos exposure include Anchor Hocking Glass, Chas. Boldt Glass Company, Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corp., West Virginia Plate Glass Company, Brockway Glass Company, Fourco Glass, and Hazel Atlas Glass.
Asbestos was often used in steel mills as thermal insulation for machinery due to its heat resistant properties. Several steel operations are located in West Virginia including, Wierton Steel, Connors Steel, Martin Steel, Steel of West Virginia, Wheeling Steel Works, Wheeling – Pittsburgh Steel Co.
Power companies used asbestos to insulate against electricity and heat in boilers, turbines, generators, and gaskets used asbestos. Companies know to have asbestos exposure issues are Dominion Virginia Power, Allegheny Energy Supply, Monongahela Power Company, Appalachian Power Company, Fort Martin Power Plant, and Albright Power Plant, Consolidated Light Heat and Power Co.
Sites in West Virginia with Known Asbestos Exposure
Fike Chemical Inc.
Fike Chemical Inc. was engaged in Chemical Processing and housed a Cooperative Sewage Treatment Plant. The owner buried hazardous waste, including asbestos in lagoons on the 12-acre site that polluted surrounding groundwater and soil. The12-acres site was placed on the Superfund list in 1988. Cleanup efforts began in 1989, but the site continues to be monitored to date.
West Virginia Ordinance
The U.S. Department of Defense produced TNT on the 8,000-acre site during WWII. In 1945, the plant was decommissioned and sold to the state for wildlife management. The EPA placed the West Virginia Ordinance on the Superfund site in 1983 after facilities, soil, and water contaminated with TNT and asbestos were found. Cleanup efforts and monitoring are ongoing.
West Virginia’s most significant asbestos threat was its mining industry. Union Carbide owned many West Virginia coal mines. Miners, contractors, and refinery workers were all at risk of inhaling the toxic mineral as coal was pulled from the earth and processed. Crushing, grinding, cutting, or roughly handling asbestos-containing coal placed workers at risk for inhaling or ingesting the fibers.
People may be exposed to asbestos by breathing tiny asbestos fibers in the air. Asbestos gets into the air when something disturbs natural deposits of asbestos or products that contain the minerals. Workers and others who breathed asbestos fibers over many years have developed asbestos-related diseases, including asbestosis, pleural disease, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Some of these diseases can be serious or even fatal.
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