California Mesothelioma Lawyer
California is the state that has the greatest number of deaths related to asbestos. From 1999 to 2013, 21,338 people died because of illnesses related to asbestos exposure. Nearly 4,000 of those deaths are attributed to mesothelioma, about 1,500 to asbestosis and the remainder to other types of cancer thought to be likely to be related to asbestos exposure.
Exposure to asbestos in the state can be attributed to numerous sites, including several Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-designated superfund sites. There are also several shipyard and Naval sites that have caused exposure along the coast, mines, and naturally occurring asbestos deposits, and material processing sites that were contaminated with asbestos. California mesothelioma lawyers are hard at work in the state making sure that victims get the compensation and justice they deserve.
Sources of Asbestos in California
California is a big state with a variety of industries. The large population is part of the reason that the state has had so many deaths related to asbestos, but the high numbers cannot only be attributed to population. There are several industries in the state that have contributed in a major way to exposing people to asbestos.
As a coastal state California has long had many ports and shipyards, both civilian and military. Asbestos was used extensively in past decades in shipbuilding, as fireproofing materials, for insulation, and in nearly every corner of ships. It was used so much because of its fire and heat resistant properties, but also because it was cheap and abundant and could add strength to materials without adding much weight. As a result, most shipyards and anyone who worked on or with ships was likely to have been exposed to asbestos.
California was also home to processing plants that used vermiculite from the W.R. Grace site in Libby, Montana. This site produced vermiculite from an asbestos-contaminated mine for decades. Several processing facilities around the country, including those in California, were then contaminated with asbestos, sometimes for decades, while processing the Libby vermiculite.
Another source of asbestos in the state is naturally occurring asbestos. This is asbestos that is found in the ground in natural deposits. Forty-two out of the 58 counties in California contain some level of naturally occurring asbestos. This poses serious risks for mining for other minerals, but also for various types of construction. Road building, for instance, can churn up this asbestos and expose workers and residents.
One of the areas of the state with the most naturally occurring asbestos is Coalinga. Mining in this area contaminated the city to the extent that the EPA declared the entire town a Superfund site in 1989. The Coalinga Asbestos Mine produced asbestos throughout the 1960s and 1970s and also operated warehouses, shipping yards, and storage yards for the asbestos and processed and transported the asbestos. Over those decades, and through the 1990s, the asbestos in this city caused huge amounts of exposure and contamination until it was finally declared cleaned and safe.
Eldorado Hills is another large area of naturally occurring asbestos in the state. A report from 2006 found that the air in the city was contaminated with asbestos and contained 40 times the normal level of asbestos fibers. People living in the city are at risk for exposure and have been directed to take steps to avoid breathing in asbestos, from wetting soil before working with it to removing shoes before entering a home. Still, living there is risky, and any outdoor activity can raise dust that contains asbestos fibers.
Like many other states, California received shipments of vermiculite from the Libby, Montana mine contaminated with asbestos. The W. R. Grace and Company ran the Libby mines and shipped contaminated vermiculite to several processing plants in California and elsewhere before anyone realized how great the danger was. One important facility in the state was the California Zonolite processing plant in Glendale. Thousands of people who worked at the plant or lived in the area were exposed over many years to asbestos fibers.
California Asbestos Superfund Sites
The EPA has declared multiple areas in California to be Superfund sites, areas that are so contaminated by toxic materials that they must be cleaned up. Several of the Superfund sites in California are contaminated with asbestos, including the South Bay Asbestos Area in Alviso, the Coalinga site, and the Atlas Asbestos Mines in Fresno and San Benito Counties. The mining sites are contaminated by naturally occurring asbestos, but the Alviso site is contaminated because asbestos was dumped there in three landfills. The asbestos came from a nearby plant that manufactured asbestos-cement pipes.
Shipyards and Naval Sites
Because of the large maritime industry in the state there are many coastal areas in California that have caused people to be exposed to asbestos. One of the civilian sites is the Moore Dry Dock Company, which built ships. Several people have been able to work with California mesothelioma lawyers to file successful lawsuits against Moor Dry Dock. Awards given have included $700,000 to a man who worked on cargo ships built by the company and who eventually died of mesothelioma. Another case ended in a $10.3 million jury-awarded settlement to a man whose wife worked in the shipyard during World War II.
Several Naval shipyards have been known to contain significant amounts of asbestos as well. Some of these sites were active in World War II when asbestos was used regularly. Decades later the military is still dealing with the resulting contamination. For example, at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco, testing in the 1980s confirmed that the site was still contaminated with asbestos and other toxic materials. The site was shut down in 1991 and it was labeled a Superfund site by the EPA. Clean up concluded in 1995 and the area was determined to be safe again.
Other Asbestos Sites in California
Mines, processing plants, shipyards, and naturally occurring asbestos have accounted for a significant proportion of the victims of asbestos exposure in California, but there have been many other sites and workplaces in the state that were contaminated and caused people harm. A few of these are:
- Los Angeles Pacific Railroad, Los Angeles
- Southern California Edison, Los Angeles
- Bethlehem Steel Corp., Alameda
- Miramar Naval Air Station, San Diego
- San Diego Marine Shipyard, San Diego
- Lawrence Radiation Labs, Livermore
- Standard Oil Company of California, Richmond
- Pacific Gas and Electric Co., statewide
- Vandenburg Air Force Base
California Asbestos Laws
Title 8, administrated by the California Department of industrial Relations, sets the guidelines for various industries that involve working with or around asbestos. These include rules for using safety equipment, procedures for documenting asbestos, maintaining air quality, and documenting cases of exposure. Title 8 also regulates how asbestos is abated, removed, and disposed. It makes employers and building owners responsible for documenting asbestos, removing it safely, and protecting workers.
The state also has laws that apply to how asbestos is used in industries and applications for which it is still legal. For instance there are laws that regulate how aggregate material is used, for instance in roadbuilding, because it could be contaminated with asbestos dust. There are also specific laws and regulations that apply to mining and construction. All industries must comply with the Asbestos Airborne Toxic Control Measures set by the state.
Statute of Limitations
Each state sets its own statute of limitations for how long someone has to file a lawsuit related to asbestos illnesses or deaths. In California that limit is just one year. Because illnesses like mesothelioma remain latent for years and decades after asbestos exposure, the statute of limitation of one year is set to begin at the time of diagnosis. For filing a wrongful death lawsuit the limit begins at the time of death and also extends for just one year.
Working with a California Mesothelioma Lawyer
Because the statute of limitations is so short in California, victims of asbestos exposure need to act quickly after being diagnosed with mesothelioma or after losing a loved one. It is important to contact a California mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible so that this professional can begin gathering information and making a strong case to help you win a settlement. A lawyer experienced in working with mesothelioma victims can guide you through the right steps you need to take to ensure you get justice for yourself or for a deceased loved one.
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