The Duwamish Shipyard was a shipbuilding and repair site located on the Lower Duwamish Waterway in Seattle. It employed hundreds of workers during its peak, many of whom faced exposure to the highly toxic asbestos in ship materials and components.
About Duwamish Shipyard
Duwamish Shipyard’s Contamination and Asbestos Issues
Along with a number of contaminants found at the shipyard, such as arsenic metals and petroleum hydrocarbon, workers experienced regular asbestos exposure. Most shipyards used this dangerous set of toxic minerals before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcing strict regulations.
From insulation, piping, electrical cords, machinery, paint, and more, asbestos was mixed into hundreds of products for its affordability and resistance to heat and fire. Although it had its good qualities, asbestos is a known carcinogen, and most manufacturers knew of its dangers but continued to ship it out because of the high profit.
Manufacturers who shipped the asbestos materials to shipyards (among other places) have faced thousands of mesothelioma lawsuits. Most workers didn’t sue Duwamish Shipyard; instead, they filed asbestos claims against the companies that provided and shipped the asbestos products.
Overhauling barges was one of the primary ways workers at Duwamish were exposed to asbestos, in addition to vessel restoration. Most vessels were built with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), and when workers restored parts, they had to cut through areas in the vessel that released tiny asbestos fibers into the air.
Asbestos fibers are microscopic, odorless, and undetectable to the human eye. Workers may inhale these. Once inside the body, the tiny fibers attach to the linings of major organs, which can eventually cause fatal diseases, such as malignant mesothelioma.
In 2010, DOE made an agreement with the shipyard after they found it corroded with toxins, which was destroying a nearby river. Duwamish Shipyard agreed to help clean up the site as directed under the Model Toxics Control Act. Cleanup efforts so far have consisted of numerous independent efforts by the shipyard.
“The purpose of the Agreed Order is to protect human health and the environment. It ensures that the cleanup happens in a timely manner and according to Washington State’s cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act,” DOE reported on its official site.
Duwamish Shipyard Today
Duwamish Shipyard was so contaminated that cleanup is still ongoing today. According to DOE, the “long-term goal is to minimize recontamination of the river sediment and restore water quality in the river.”Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
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.