Hawaii Mesothelioma Lawyer
Hawaii has experienced fewer than the average number of deaths related to asbestos and mesothelioma over the years, but there have still been hundreds of people to die because of exposure. And the risk of exposure is not gone. Nearly all older buildings in the state, including public buildings, schools, and military installations used asbestos, and if it gets damaged or deteriorates it can become airborne and pose a risk to anyone in the vicinity.
The state government is doing its part to protect people in the future from this kind of asbestos exposure, but some people are still at risk and nothing can be done now to protect people who were already exposed. Those residents and workers in Hawaii now can sue employers and others by working with a Hawaii mesothelioma lawyer to make a case that someone was responsible for their exposure and subsequent illness.
Asbestos Use in Hawaii
Asbestos is a natural mineral that has been used for many applications in several industries. Two of the industries that used it the most are construction and shipbuilding. Buildings constructed before 1980 in Hawaii are highly likely to contain asbestos because the mineral was used heavily in the state. It may be in the insulation, flooring, ceiling tiles, in fireproofing materials, and even in the walls and adhesives. Private and residential homes, school buildings, government buildings, and military buildings are all included.
Asbestos was used just as extensively, and even more so, in the building of ships. Ships have long been constructed using asbestos in nearly every component because of its ability to protect against fire and to add strength to materials without much added weight. Because it is a state made of islands and has a long history of shipping and shipbuilding, ports, shipyards, and naval installations are all areas in Hawaii that could cause workers and residents to become exposed to asbestos.
Vermiculite of Hawaii Plant
Buildings and ships are not the only places where asbestos has caused damage in Hawaii. Although it is a small state, it has seen its share of industrial operations and plants, and many of these used asbestos and likely exposed workers to it. A prime example of a plant that exposed workers to asbestos in the state is the Vermiculite of Hawaii Plant. Vermiculite is also a natural mineral and when it is mined there is often contaminating asbestos mixed in with it. When workers processed vermiculite, they were unknowingly exposed to harmful asbestos.
The factory was located in Honolulu and since it ceased operations it has been targeted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry for official clean up. The plant was determined to have received vermiculite from the W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana for nearly three decades between 1954 and 1983. The Libby mine shipped contaminated vermiculite to processing plants around the country, spreading asbestos everywhere it went. Thousands of people, both in Libby and at distant processing plants, were affected by the vermiculite and many became ill with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer.
The Pearl Harbor naval base on Oahu will always be infamous for the attack that occurred in 1941, but it is also an example of how military men and women were exposed to asbestos. The Environmental Protection Agency designated the entire harbor complex a Superfund site because of all the toxic chemicals, and those include asbestos. Many buildings there have been targeted for abatement and clean up, including an Army barracks and buildings in the shipyard. Many veterans of the U.S. military have faced dangers from serving, and those include being exposed to the health risks of asbestos.
Asbestos Exposure in Schools
Among the many buildings in Hawaii that contain asbestos are school buildings. Specific schools in the state have made the news for containing asbestos, for violating asbestos laws, and for putting children and school employees at risk. In 2005, nine school buildings in the state were targeted for abatement of asbestos known to be in the ceilings, but 45 more were thought to also have issues with ceiling tiles. The issue was not just that there is asbestos in the ceiling, but that the ceiling tiles are deteriorating, which means asbestos could be released into the air.
Other Hawaiian Sites with Asbestos
In addition to Pearl Harbor, numerous schools, and old plants like the Vermiculite of Hawaii Plant, there are other known workplaces in the state that have asbestos and have likely exposed workers:
- Paauhau Sugar Plantation Company, Hilo
- Standard American Dredging Company, Honolulu
- Honolulu Shipyard, Honolulu
- Kaiser Cement and Gypsum, Nanakuli
- Hawaii Electric Light Company, Hilo
- Hickam Air Force Base
- Pioneer Mill Company, Lahaina
- Standard Oil, Barbers Point
Hawaii Asbestos Laws
Hawaii has strict rules about how asbestos may be used. It has not been made illegal and asbestos can still be used in many modern applications, in spite of the dangers. The state restricts the use of asbestos for roadbuilding. Tailings used to build a road must either be asbestos-free or must be fully encapsulated within the road material. Any plant working with asbestos must take strict precautions and do routine maintenance to ensure asbestos fibers do not get into the air.
The Hawaii Department of Health administers rules regarding working on buildings that contain asbestos. Any work being done on these must adhere to the rules for protecting workers and the surrounding environment. Inspection of schools for asbestos is rigorous. Regular inspections must be done to ensure the asbestos in the buildings is contained and not deteriorating. Regular reports must be sent to the state government along with plans for managing or abating asbestos in schools.
Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Lawsuits
In the state of Hawaii, people who were exposed to asbestos and became ill as a result have two years from the time of diagnosis to file a lawsuit. A Hawaii mesothelioma lawyer may help the victim file, but it has to be done before that two year period is up. The statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits related to asbestos is also two years. A loved one has just two years from the time of death to file a lawsuit against the defendant.
Hawaii Mesothelioma Lawyers
If you live in the state and you or someone you care about has been exposed to asbestos you may want to think about working with a Hawaii mesothelioma lawyer. Exposure does not always lead to illness, but it could result in mesothelioma, asbestosis, or even lung cancer or other types of cancer. An experienced lawyer who is knowledgeable about Hawaii asbestos laws is your best ally in trying to make a case for justice and compensation.
Page edited by Dave Foster
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