Pension Trustees for Mesothelioma-Plagued Workers Urge Company to Stop Importing Asbestos

Firefighters, police officers, and other first responders are among the workers most vulnerable to malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, so they have a vested interest in stopping asbestos from being imported into the United States. In furtherance of that goal, the Comptroller for the city of New York wrote a letter to Occidental Petroleum Company asking them to stop the carcinogenic material’s use. Underlying the request is the fact that the Police & Fire Pension Funds own $61 million worth of the company’s stock.


NYC Comptroller’s Letter Cites Increased Risk of Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, and Asbestosis

In his letter to the Chair of the Board of Occidental Petroleum (OxyChem), the New York City Comptroller wasted little time in tying the company’s continued import of asbestos to the mesothelioma risks faced by New York’s first responders. He wrote, “The deadly and carcinogenic properties of asbestos are well-known and thoroughly documented. As asbestos becomes disturbed or damaged by fire or fire suppression activities, its particles can become airborne, leading to inhalation by firefighters and other first responders.”

He continued, “Asbestos inhalation increases the risk of diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.” He wrote, “While these risks have been mitigated somewhat by the elimination of asbestos from most building materials, OxyChem’s persistent use of asbestos in the production of industrial chlorine continues to pose a risk to workers and potentially exposes our first responders to the risk of asbestos inhalation. These dangers of asbestos already in place and the continued use of asbestos are acute for first responders to fires such as the brave firefighters and police officers who serve the City of New York and who are owners of Occidental Petroleum shares through their pension funds.”

Company Asked to Expedite Move Away from Mesothelioma-Causing Substance 

The Comptroller pointed out that OxyChem’s major competitors in the United States have already committed to ceasing the import of asbestos and transitioning their chlorine production in the United States from asbestos diaphragms to asbestos-free membrane technology. Though he acknowledged that this switch could not happen overnight, he requested that the company make the commitment to it happening in an expedited way. He closed by noting that doing so would “reduce legal and regulatory risks” and keep the company’s chlorine production “profitable, sustainable and safe.” He gave the company just two weeks to respond to his request for a meeting.

Asbestos causes inestimable harm. If you or someone you love has been affected by exposure to this carcinogenic material, contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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