People who have worked in the shipbuilding industry, including Navy vets, are thought to be at greater risk for asbestos diseases, including mesothelioma. Here in Minnesota, the Navy began building ships in Savage in 1942. Shipbuilding is a tradition in northern Minnesota that dates back to the early 1870s, and there have been a number of shipyards along the north shore.
Asbestos was used in ships to insulate hulls, pipes and boilers and to provide fireproof materials. Vast tons of the naturally occurring mineral fiber were used for these purposes, and asbestos dust lay thick in the air at shipyards. After World War II, occupational health experts began to issue warnings about the hazards of asbestos, but the Navy, the government generally, and society failed to appreciate the magnitude of the risk.
Asbestos in shipyards affected all sorts of workers
Unfortunately, many shipbuilders and Navy vets continued to be exposed to asbestos long after the first warnings were issued. In the 1960s and 1970s, several studies revealed high rates of asbestos disease among shipyard workers. In fact, the excess asbestos disease was not limited to those who worked directly with asbestos but was also present in office workers and security guards who worked in shipyards but had no direct contact with the fiber.
Around that same time, as the threat of asbestos became ever clearer, the Navy and other shipbuilders began the enormous task of removing asbestos insulation from ships and replacing it with safer materials. This process sometimes exposed additional workers to asbestos. As late as 2006, workers in India were performing this asbestos abatement on ships from around the world, and they were often inadequately protected from exposure to asbestos.
The epidemic of mesothelioma and asbestos-lung cancer among shipyard workers is not over. Because these diseases can have a long latency period, many people who worked in shipyards early in their careers are only now discovering they have these diseases.
If you worked in a shipyard and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-lung cancer, you should explore your legal rights as soon as possible. There may be accelerated deadlines to make a claim.
For claims in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, Sieben Polk, P.A., is available to discuss your legal rights and options. We are the foremost asbestos liability law firm in Minnesota, and national firms often refer their cases to us due to our extensive local experience.