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Anyone living or working in Arkansas who has been exposed to asbestos and subsequently became sick with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis, may qualify for a settlement with the help of an Arkansas mesothelioma lawyer. Asbestos trust funds, settlements, and other forms of compensation are available through companies, manufacturers, and employers who failed to keep their workers safe and were considered negligent in asbestos exposure.
Arkansas ranks close to the middle for number of asbestos-related deaths by state. Many other states have been hit harder, but Arkansas residents and workers have been made sick by exposure to asbestos through their jobs and in some cases simply by living near workplaces that used asbestos. One of the worst cases of asbestos exposure in the state occurred around a vermiculite processing plant in North Little Rock.
Asbestos in Arkansas and Related Deaths
Between 1999 and 2013 the number of deaths in Arkansas that were related to asbestos exposure was 1,407. The areas hit hardest in the state are around Fayetteville in northwestern Arkansas and in and around Little Rock. Of those deaths, 203 have been attributed to asbestosis, 242 to mesothelioma, and 968 to other types of cancer believed to be related to asbestos exposure.
Deadly exposure to asbestos has never been widespread in Arkansas, but there have been several incidents and locations that put people at risk and can be blamed for many of the deaths. These include exposure in school buildings, and industrial processing plants, and tainted vermiculite that came from the mine in Libby, Montana that produced asbestos-laden vermiculite for decades.
North Little Rock Auto Salvage
One of the worst cases of asbestos contamination and exposure occurred in North Little Rock. The site is known as the North Little Rock Auto Salvage site, and also as the Former W.R. Grace Facility. It is located in a part of town that is mixed residential and commercial and for many decades served as a facility for processing vermiculite. Vermiculite is a mined mineral that is often contaminated with asbestos.
The vermiculite used at this site came from the W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana. It operated for decades before it was discovered that the mineral was heavily contaminated with asbestos and that workers and residents in the area were being exposed to dangerous levels. The North Little Rock facility operated from 1953 to 1989 and processed over 85,000 tons of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite.
Workers in the facility were exposed during those years to dangerous levels of asbestos fibers, which accounts for the high rates of asbestos-related illnesses and deaths in the Little Rock area. Nearby residents and the family members of workers were exposed to a lesser degree. The concern over continuing exposure was revisited in 2011 and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began an investigation into the facility.
Another city in Arkansas that has been disproportionately affected by asbestos is Fort Chaffee. The EPA reviewed concerns in 2011 and found that several buildings that were demolished in the city had contained high levels of asbestos. The EPA has been criticized for allowing the buildings to have been demolished using a method that was unproven to protect workers and others from the asbestos contained in them. Even before the demolition, many workers had already been exposed.
Other Sites in Arkansas Known to Contain Asbestos
In addition to the larger exposure incidents in Fort Chaffee and North Little Rock, there are several other sites in the state that are known to have containedasbestos. These sites have caused lower amounts of exposure to fewer people, but still have caused harm and have contributed to the illness and deaths of many Arkansas residents:
- Stuttgart School District, Stuttgart
- 3M Company, Little Rock
- Gerber Plant, Fort Smith
- Monsanto Chemical Company, El Dorado
- Hot Springs Electric Light Company, Hot Springs
- Vulcan Materials Company, Hot Springs
- Whirlpool, Fort Smith
- Triangle Insulation Company, Fort Smith
- Arkansas Power and Light Company, Hot Springs
- North Little Rock Parks, North Little Rock
Many other sites may have contained asbestos and may have contaminated workers and caused illness. The industries, work sites, workers most likely to have been effected include military sites, teachers working in older school buildings, construction workers, industrial plants, demolition workers, and power plant workers.
Arkansas Asbestos Regulations
The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission Regulation 21 addresses asbestos work practices including demolitions, renovations, and licensing of workers. Through Regulation 21 the state lays out how workers who will handle or abate asbestos should be trained and certified. It sets requirements for working on buildings with asbestos, including an asbestos Notice of Intent that must be filed with the state before work is done.
It also regulates how asbestos is safely transported and disposed of at approved facilities. Regulation 21 was drafted in 1990, but it has been updated over the years. In addition to these rules, those set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration must also be followed in workplaces where there may be or is known to have asbestos.
Statute of Limitations
To seek justice for illness or death related to asbestos exposure, many people choose to file lawsuits either against an employer or a company that manufactured asbestos-containing products. In Arkansas the statute of limitations is three years after an asbestos-related diagnosis. This allows for the fact that a diagnosis may not come for several years or even decades after the exposure occurred. For those family members filing wrongful death lawsuits, the statute of limitations is also three years and begins at the time of death.
Working with an Arkansas Mesothelioma Lawyer
If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos while working or living in Arkansas, you have certain legal rights. Many people were exposed through no fault of their own and then were faced with progressive and terminal illnesses. To file a lawsuit or seek a settlement for your illness and pain and suffering, seek the advice and guidance of an Arkansas mesothelioma lawyer. This legal professional understands the laws and precedents surrounding asbestos exposure in the state and can help you make a strong case. You can also rely on this expert guidance to ensure that you take all the right steps, that you make no mistakes and that you take advantage of any existing asbestos trust funds.
Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Rod De Llano was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics, and earned a law degree from the University of Texas. After working for an international law firm for several years, Rod formed a law firm dedicated to representing persons injured by exposure to asbestos products. For over 20 years, Rod has fought for persons diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. His clients have recovered over $1 billion over the years.