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The long and storied history of shipping, shipbuilding, and other maritime industries in Maine has helped the state’s economy and residents to thrive over hundreds of years. Unfortunately this industry has also been responsible for the hundreds of deaths related to exposure to asbestos. Between 199 and 2013, 433 people in Maine died from mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis because of the extensive use of asbestos in shipping and other industries.

Residents of Maine are not taking this without a fight. They are hiring Maine mesothelioma lawyers and legal teams to help them fight back against the employers and companies that exposed them to harmful asbestos without their knowledge and without adequate warning and protection. These legal professionals are helping people in Maine access asbestos trust funds and win legal settlements for justice and compensation.

Sources of Asbestos in Maine

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that has been mined and used throughout the world for hundreds of years. It has been used mostly because it resists heat and fire and adds strength to materials without adding a lot of weight. It is also abundant and inexpensive. These are all traits that made this mineral so useful for so long. Since it was discovered that the inhaled or ingested fibers could cause deadly illnesses like mesothelioma and lung cancer, the use of asbestos has decreased, but not disappeared.

There are several sources of asbestos in the state of Maine that have posed a risk to residents and continue to pose a risk. One source is natural deposits of asbestos. Maine has never had an operating asbestos mine, but there are several sites with asbestos in the ground. This can contaminate nearby residents when the earth is disturbed, such as for construction projects. Much of this natural asbestos is near the border with Canada, close to locations in Quebec that ere mined for asbestos.

The most common source of asbestos exposure for people in Maine is not natural deposits, but workplaces. Several industries have used and still use asbestos, including chemical production, paper mills, power plants, and many others. Workers in these facilities are at risk of being exposed. Another significant source of exposure is in older buildings. Most buildings from before the 1970s are full of asbestos siding, roofing, flooring, insulation, and other materials. If those materials deteriorate or become damaged, such as during a renovation project, anyone nearby may be exposed and harmed.

Shipbuilding, Ports, and Shipyards

Workplaces are the major source of asbestos exposure in Maine and the workplace that has used the most asbestos and contributed most to exposure is the maritime industry. Maine’s rugged, long coastline has made it a major source for shipping and shipbuilding for centuries. Asbestos has been used more extensively in boat building than in any other industry because it adds the safety of fire and heat proofing with lightweight strength. Anyone who has worked on or near boats in Maine is likely to have been exposed to asbestos.

Paper Mills

With its extensive forests, Maine also has a large timber and paper industry. There are multiple paper mills in the state, although there were many more in the past. These paper mills exposed workers to asbestos for decades and caused illnesses in many. Today, some of these mills are still problematic as they have been abandoned and full of asbestos. One example of this is the former Lincoln Paper and Tissue facility in Lincoln, Maine. It was recently reported that it would take $16 million to clean up this site and make it safe again.

Known Sites of Asbestos Exposure in Maine

Shipbuilding is a major industry in Maine and has been one of the biggest sources of asbestos exposure in the state. There are many other industries, workplaces, military sites, and public buildings that have also contributed to the illness and death toll asbestos has caused in the state. Here are just a few of the locations in Maine known to have posed a risk to people because of asbestos:

  • Brunswick Naval Air Station, Brunswick
  • Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery
  • Oxford Paper Company, Rumford
  • Rumford Paper Mill, Rumford Falls
  • Great Northern Paper Company, Lincoln
  • New England Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland
  • Central Main Power Plant, Lewiston
  • Union Chemicals Company, South Hope
  • Boardman Hall, University of Maine
  • Bowdoin College
  • Todd Shipyard, Portland
  • International Paper Company, Livermore
  • Bath Iron Works, Bath

Getting Medical Care in Maine

If you have been exposed to asbestos, or you are sick and suspect you were exposed, you need to get the best medical care. Mesothelioma is an aggressive and fast-moving, but also rare type of cancer. The best care comes from experts in mesothelioma and asbestos illnesses. In Maine, the Maine Medical Care Institute is designated as a center of excellence by the National Cancer Institute and is home to the best medical team and resources in the state for treating mesothelioma.

Maine Asbestos Laws

The laws in Maine that are related to asbestos and designed to protect residents and workers are administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The laws regarding asbestos require that professionals working on asbestos abatement projects must be trained and licensed. Disposing of asbestos must be done in accordance with the law and can only go to designated asbestos disposal sites. The federal laws regarding asbestos are also followed.

Main’s Historic Asbestos Lawsuit

The first asbestos lawsuits to go to jury trial in the state of Maine occurred in 1981. A man, Blaine Austin, who worked at Bath Iron Works in Bath, died of mesothelioma in 1977. His wife filed a wrongful death suit against several manufacturers of products he used at work that contained asbestos. Several of these companies settled out of court, but two went all the way to trial: Raybestos and Unarco. The jury found both guilty of negligence, but also found Austin guilty for not wearing a respirator on the job. Because of this his widow did not recover damages, until a Court of Appeals ordered a retrial in 1983 and she was awarded over $300,000.

Statute of Limitations

Making a case against a company you believe was negligent in your exposure to asbestos and resulting illness is important for both getting compensation and for justice. However, there are limits to when you can file. The statute of limitations is generous in Maine and you have six years from the time of diagnosis of an illness to file a lawsuit. For a wrongful death case, on the other hand, you have just two years from the time of death to file a lawsuit on behalf of a loved one you lost to an asbestos-related illness.

Finding and Working with a Maine Mesothelioma Lawyer

The statute of limitations is just one reason that working with a Maine mesothelioma lawyer is the smartest way to make a strong case. There are many other legal details and areas where it is easy to make a mistake when filing a lawsuit for your illness or the death of a loved one. A mesothelioma lawyer knows the laws inside and out and understands what needs to be done to file the lawsuit and to gather and present the necessary evidence to make the best possible case for compensation. Your lawyer is also your advocate in settlement discussions, as most of these cases do not actually go to trial. Instead of trying to go it alone, rely on a professional and experienced legal team that can get you the justice and the damages you deserve.

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