Bell Asbestos Mines
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Bell Asbestos Mines operated for decades in Quebec, Canada. Turner & Newall, an owner of the mine, faced several lawsuits over asbestos exposure and mesothelioma in miners and other workers, forcing the company to declare bankruptcy. It contributed to an asbestos trust fund as part of the bankruptcy protection agreement under the Federal-Mogul Asbestos Trust.
About Bell Asbestos Mines
Beginning in the 1870s, the Bell Asbestos Mines operated in Thetford, Quebec. This is an area rich in natural asbestos deposits. It was one of the largest asbestos mining areas in the world.
- By 1934, the Bell mines were owned by the Keasbey and Mattison Company, which was acquired by the British company Turner & Newall that same year.
- Founded in England in 1920, Turner & Newall began as an insulation and textile company. Turner & Newell became one of the first companies to industrialize the use of asbestos by weaving fibers into textiles.
- Turner & Newall saw great success with asbestos products. It acquired several companies that mined asbestos, including the Bell mines.
- Turner & Newall also acquired companies that manufactured asbestos products, including cement companies, textile companies, and insulation companies.
- Bell Asbestos Mines was one part of this large company but operated as a separate company. It was responsible for extracting much of the asbestos used in other industries.
- Through a series of buying and selling, Bell Asbestos Mines eventually acquired a product called Sprayed Asbestos Limpet. This product would add to the company’s asbestos woes and litigation.
- Sprayed Asbestos Limpet was a spray-on asbestos insulation and fire retardant. It would later be labeled as one of the most harmful types of asbestos products.
- Many of the workers affected by asbestos at the mines and through products like the spray-on insulation sued for compensation after developing mesothelioma and other illnesses.
In 1998, Turner & Newall, along with subsidiaries including Bell, was acquired by Federal-Mogul, a Michigan-based automotive parts company. Federal-Mogul was then faced with asbestos liabilities from Bell and other companies. In 2001, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Bell Asbestos Products
Bell Asbestos Mines extracted minerals from the ground. The mine produced asbestos to supply industries for decades. It wasn’t until years later the company would have to take responsibility for an asbestos product, the Sprayed Limpet Asbestos.
Sprayed Limpet Asbestos was designed to provide fireproofing and insulation in an easy-to-apply format. Workers sprayed the product onto surfaces needing insulation.
It was applied up to a depth of a few inches, and then the job was done. Unfortunately, by spraying asbestos products, mineral fibers became airborne, putting workers and others at risk of inhalation.
Turner & Newall also made many other products. It used asbestos from Bell Mines to make several construction materials:
Who Was at Risk for Exposure to Bell Asbestos?
Because Bell Asbestos Mines produced raw materials for so many industries, it was the source of a long chain of asbestos exposure and resulting illness.
Direct Exposure from Bell Asbestos Mines
Anyone who worked at or lived near asbestos originating from Bell Mines could have been at risk of exposure. People exposed to asbestos through employment or proximity had an increased risk of developing deadly illnesses, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and other types of cancer.
Asbestos fibers are light, tiny, and easily float in the air. Once airborne, people can inhale them without even realizing it. Once in the body, these fibers lodge in tissues, causing irritation and cell damage over the course of many years.
Anyone living in the area of Thetford, Quebec, was put at risk. Additionally, the mine dumped tons of waste in the area, spreading contamination farther into the surrounding area.
Exposure from Bell’s Asbestos Limpet Spray
In terms of liability, Bell was considered responsible for exposure caused by the spray-on insulation and fire retardant.
Insulation workers who sprayed it onto construction surfaces were at risk of inhaling the fibers, and other construction workers in the vicinity were also at risk.
Other Workers Affected by Bell Asbestos and Turner & Newall Products
Turner & Newall used asbestos from Bell Mines and others to manufacture and sell products for use in other industries, primarily construction. Anyone working in the industry, either handling the products or working near them, was at risk for exposure:
- Construction workers
- HVAC workers
- Demolition workers
The risk of exposure spread to anyone who worked in buildings that contained Turner & Newell asbestos products. These included government and public buildings, schools, industrial plants, power plants, and other industrial settings.
Asbestos Lawsuits against Bell
For decades before the Environmental Protection Agency placed restrictions on asbestos use, Bell Asbestos Mines extracted asbestos for industries worldwide. Because of this and the spray-on asbestos insulation, Bell and its parent companies faced numerous lawsuits.
These lawsuits resulted from people exposed to asbestos who began to show signs of illness, subsequently receiving devastating diagnoses.
- In one case, a defendant won $60,000 from Bell Asbestos Mines after getting sick from exposure from years on the job handling asbestos fibers. James Fischer died from lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure after working with products that originated at Bell. The court found Bell 20% liable for his death.
- Robert Truitt worked for DuPont in Delaware and used Sprayed Limpet Asbestos. He later developed lung cancer and asbestosis. He sued Bell Asbestos Mines and other companies. Bell was granted summary judgment, but Truit settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
- Fletcher McDaniel worked for more than 30 years as a plasterer using Sprayed Limpet Asbestos. After developing respiratory illnesses, he sued Bell Asbestos Mines, Turner & Newall, and others. The case, from 1985, was important in developing more reasonable statutes of limitations for asbestos cases that take into account the long latency period for mesothelioma and other asbestos illnesses.
Federal-Mogul Asbestos Trust Fund
Due to the number and expense of lawsuits, Federal-Mogul was forced to seek bankruptcy protection and reorganization in 2001. Not only did Federal-Mogul face the costs of lawsuits related to Bell’s mines and insulation, but it was also responsible for cases directed at other Turner & Newall subsidiaries.
The company found success with asbestos products, but when the tide turned on asbestos, the company was forced to pay for the repercussions.
As a part of the reorganization efforts, Federal-Mogul was required to set up an asbestos trust fund. Called the Federal-Mogul Personal Injury Trust, the trust fund was set up to cover current and future claims made by valid victims of asbestos exposure and related illnesses. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2007. The trust fund became active in 2011.
If you were exposed to asbestos because of Bell Asbestos Mines, you can file your claim with the Federal-Mogul Personal Injury Trust. The process can be complicated and confusin. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can walk you through the process and help you get the compensation you deserve.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Written by Mary Ellen Ellis
Mary Ellen Ellis has been the head writer for Mesothelioma.net since 2016. With hundreds of mesothelioma and asbestos articles to her credit, she is one of the most experienced writers on these topics. Her degrees and background in science and education help her explain complicated medical topics for a wider audience. Mary Ellen takes pride in providing her readers with the critical information they need following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness.
Page Edited by Patient Advocate Dave Foster
Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.