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Minnesota has one of the highest numbers of deaths related to asbestos, including deaths from mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. It ranks 14th in the country in terms of the overall numbers of these deaths. Industrial workplaces, the processing of contaminated vermiculite, natural deposits of asbestos, mining, older buildings, and other factors have all contributed to putting Minnesotans at risk of getting sick from asbestos exposure.
A Minnesota mesothelioma lawyer can be an important advocate for anyone in the state who was exposed to asbestos and became sick. In many cases someone, such as an employer, can be found to be negligent and an experienced lawyer is the best way for victims to seek justice and to make a strong case for compensation from settlements and trust funds.
Asbestos in Minnesota
Minnesota has experienced a relatively high death toll from asbestos exposure. The asbestos that has harmed people here has come from a variety of sources, but on the job exposure has been most common. The industry most associated with asbestos exposure in the state is mining. Many other industrial types of job sites have also exposed workers to asbestos, though, including power plants, oil and petroleum plants and refineries, paper mills, military locations, steel mills, and others.
Minnesota Mining and Asbestos
The mining industry has been a big one in Minnesota for over 100 years, and while there has never been an asbestos-producing mine in the state, this is one type of job that has exposed countless workers. There are natural deposits of asbestos in the state, which can be a contaminant in other mined substances. This can cause workers to be exposed. Another source of asbestos exposure for miners in Minnesota was working with and around equipment, facilities, and machinery that used asbestos.
Researchers have found that miners in Minnesota have higher incidences of being exposed to asbestos than the general population. This is especially true in an area in the northeastern part of the state where iron has been mined for many years and where natural deposits of asbestos can also be found. Among the miners that worked in this region, there are 70 percent more cases of mesothelioma as compared to the rest of the state.
While some have pointed to the use of commercial asbestos in mining equipment and gear as the main cause for this discrepancy, others are not so sure. When high quality iron ore in the region was mined to depletion, they began targeting a lower quality ore called taconite. It was determined later that the waste rock contained asbestos fibers. Miners were likely exposed to asbestos from working with the ore and its waste products.
One mining company in particular, Reserve Mining, was later found to have dumped tons of this contaminated mine waste into Lake Superior for years. Residents in and around Duluth, Minnesota were likely also exposed to asbestos because of this practice, which went on for 25 years. The effect of having asbestos-contaminated drinking water is being studied now by researchers and the extent of the damage is not yet known.
Mining within the state of Minnesota is not the only way in which this industry has exposed residents and workers to asbestos. Western Mineral Products is a company whose workers processed vermiculite from the infamous mine in Libby, Montana. This mine, owned by the W.R. Grace Company, produced vermiculite that was contaminated with asbestos and shipped it all over the country for processing, exposing people in and around Libby, and at and near processing facilities in nearly every state.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessed the site of the Western Mineral Products company in 2000 and found that it still contains asbestos. The EPA also found asbestos in many residences in the vicinity. This means that not only were workers at the facility exposed to asbestos, but so were residents in the area. W.R. Grace has given the EPA millions of dollars to clean up their old facilities, including this one in Minnesota.
Other Sites in Minnesota with Known Asbestos
In addition to mines and vermiculite processing plants, there are numerous other job sites and buildings in the state that have been found to have contained asbestos and possibly to have contaminated workers and others:
- Georgia Pacific, Duluth
- Boise Cascade, International Falls
- Minnesota Mining Manufacturing Company, St. Paul
- University of Minnesota, St. Paul and Minneapolis
- Moorhead Power Plant, Moorhead
- Riverside Power Plant, Minneapolis
- S. Steel, Duluth
- 3M Company, Minneapolis
- Great Northern Railroad, Minneapolis
- Duluth Air Force Base, Duluth
Minnesota Asbestos Laws
The Minnesota Department of Health is responsible for the laws in the state that govern the handling of asbestos and the protection of workers and residents. Workers on asbestos abatement projects must be licensed and trained to work with it safely. These contractors must pay abatement fees and notify the Department of Health before beginning work on any project that involves asbestos. There are also strict rules regarding how asbestos is to be handled and contained when it is disposed in designated landfills.
Cancer Care in Minnesota
For mesothelioma or lung cancer related to asbestos exposure, it is important to get the best care and the most advanced treatment. In Minnesota, residents can rely on one of two medical facilities designated by the National Cancer Institute as comprehensive cancer centers. These are the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Rochester and the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center in Minneapolis. These are facilities that have the most experienced oncologists and specialists in the state working on advanced cancer research and treatments.
Statute of Limitations
There are many people in the state who have suffered and may still suffer in the future because of illnesses related to asbestos exposure. Thankfully for these victims the state has a fairly lenient statute of limitations on lawsuits relating to asbestos. If you have become sick from asbestos, you have four years from the time that you received a diagnosis to file a lawsuit against those you believe to be negligent. If you lose a loved one to an asbestos illness, you have three years from the time of death to file a wrongful death suit.
Finding a Minnesota Mesothelioma Lawyer
To work with a Minnesota mesothelioma lawyer means working with the best and most experienced legal experts in terms of asbestos, illness, and negligence. If you are sick because of asbestos or you lost someone you love to one of these illnesses, let this experienced type of lawyer guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit. With the right lawyer by your side you can be sure that you do not miss your opportunity to seek justice and that you have the best possible chance to get compensation.
Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Rod De Llano was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics, and earned a law degree from the University of Texas. After working for an international law firm for several years, Rod formed a law firm dedicated to representing persons injured by exposure to asbestos products. For over 20 years, Rod has fought for persons diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. His clients have recovered over $1 billion over the years.