Weirton Steel Asbestos Exposure

Weirton Steel Asbestos Exposure

In the United States, an estimated 27 million workers were exposed to airborne asbestos fibers between 1940 and 1979. Asbestos exposure was highest with workers engaged in mining, milling of raw asbestos or construction, and product manufacture that used asbestos products. Other exposure occurred from asbestos released into the air and soil around facilities such as factories handling asbestos, power plants, refineries, shipyards, steel mills, and vermiculite mines. Weirton, West Virginia, was a small steel mill city that exposed residents and workers to asbestos through its only employer, The Weirton Steel Company.

A Brief History of Weirton Steel

In 1905 Ernest Tener Weir, a Pittsburgh-area steel employee, purchased an ailing steel company in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and relocated it to an industrial site in the northern finger of West Virginia about 39 miles from Pittsburgh.

By 1920, villages sprung up all around the Weirton steel plant, where the vast majority of residents came to work. The mill provided a steady income for many families in the area and helped the entire community because it was the largest employer taxpayer and plate producer In West Virginia.

In 1929, Weirton Steel Company merged with Great Lakes Steel Corporation and Hanna Iron Ore Company to form National Steel Corporation, which immediately became one of the nation’s largest steelmakers. Weirton Steel became a subsidiary of National Steel. By 1940, Weirton had become the largest unincorporated city in the whole country.

After the 1960s, the steel industry began to decline due to foreign competition and high operating costs. In November 1982, Weirton Steel Corporation was organized for the employees to acquire the assets of National Steel’s Weirton Steel division.

In 2003, still the fifth-largest private employer in West Virginia, Weirton Steel nevertheless, entered into bankruptcy. International Steel Group purchased the plant in 2004 and sold it to Mittal Steel, now ArcelorMittal, in 2005.

Why is Weirton Steel the Defendant in Many Lawsuits?

In 2008, several families filed lawsuits on behalf of deceased relatives claiming they suffered deadly asbestos exposure due to working at steel companies, including Weirton Steel, National Steel, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, etc. The lawsuit claimed that the defendants failed to warn employees of the dangers of working with asbestos products. Asbestos was used as an insulation material in steel mills up until the mid-1900s.

Equipment at the steel mill would reach extremely high temperatures, so asbestos was used as insulation on the equipment. Cement, gaskets, and packing were other types of asbestos materials used for the equipment to function correctly. As the machinery aged became worn down, particles of asbestos were released and inhaled by workers.

Employees who worked at Weirton Steel were also potentially exposed to asbestos through various asbestos products and protective clothing.

Asbestos Exposure Risks for Steelworkers

Steelworkers are among tradespeople with the highest risk of developing the disease simply because the industry made great use of asbestos inside its plants for several decades.

Greater asbestos exposure in duration and amounts has been linked with a greater risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. However, any amount of exposure to asbestos can result in a cancer diagnosis in the future.

Asbestos exposure can cause:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Lung Cancer
  • Colon and Colo-rectal Cancers
  • Throat Cancer
  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Esophageal
  • Asbestosis

If you or someone in your family worked in a steel mill, you might have been exposed to asbestos. If you have developed mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related diseases, you might be eligible to receive financial compensation. Contact Goldberg, Persky, and White PC to discuss how we can help you receive monetary compensation to help you and your family.

 

Sources
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “Asbestos Toxicity,” (August 2014).  [link]
Cara Bailey, “124 companies named in four asbestos suits,”  West Virginia Record (July 2008). [link]
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