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Nebraska ranks low among states for the number of deaths related to asbestos exposure. Only a few hundred people have died from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, and asbestosis between 1999 and 2013, as compared to thousands in other states. For those who became sick and died, though, this statistic is cold comfort.
Much of the exposure to asbestos in the state was in industrial workplaces, like power plants or factories. In predominantly rural Nebraska, exposure rates are lower than in other states with more industry. Nebraska mesothelioma lawyers are standing by to help victims file a lawsuit and pursue compensation.
Asbestos in Nebraska
Asbestos has not been as much of a risk in Nebraska as in other states, for a couple of reasons. The Cornhusker State has no natural asbestos deposits, which can be stirred up and cause exposure. Nebraska is also largely rural with an economy based on agriculture. In other states, high exposure rates usually occur in industrial, manufacturing, and other similar jobs. Nebraska does have industrial workplaces, and these are some of the most common places in which Nebraskans have been exposed to asbestos. And most old buildings contain asbestos, a problem in all states. Demolition and renovations can cause exposure.
Western Mineral Products
Although Nebraska does not have a lot of industry, a vermiculite processing plant in the state caused a significant amount of exposure to asbestos for workers and nearby residents. This Omaha facility produced concrete materials, insulation, and other products that used vermiculite, a natural mineral. Much of the vermiculite used there came from the W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana.
This mine produced vermiculite for decades and shipped it to facilities around the country, including Western Mineral Products in Omaha. The mine stopped producing in 1990 after the discovery that the vermiculite was contaminated with asbestos. In Omaha, workers processed over 150,000 tons of this contaminated mineral, which put them at risk of getting sick as a result of the exposure to asbestos. Federal agencies have tested the now abandoned facility and declared it no longer a threat, but for decades workers and residents nearby were exposed to asbestos.
Natural Disasters and Asbestos Debris
Another way in which Nebraskans may be exposed to asbestos is through the asbestos-containing materials in older homes and buildings. Federal and state laws dictate how people are to be kept safe from this source of asbestos, but they cannot control the weather. Natural disasters, like floods and tornadoes are not uncommon in Nebraska and can wreak havoc.
These natural disasters sweep through quickly and cause huge destruction. They rip down buildings, and when those buildings contain asbestos, they can leave behind contaminated debris. When the debris dries out it becomes dangerous. The dried fibers of asbestos become airborne and pose a risk for cleanup crews, rescue workers, and others.
Other Exposure Sites in the State
The Western Mineral Products facility was a major site of asbestos exposure in Nebraska, but not the only one. Other work sites and buildings are known to have contained asbestos and may have exposed people:
- Union Pacific Railroad Company, Omaha and Grand Island
- Offutt Air Force Base
- Ace Drywall Company, Omaha
- Allied Chemical Company, Omaha
- Upjohn Company, Omaha
- Western Brick and Supply Company, Nebraska City
- United States Naval Ammunition Depot, Hastings
- Nebraska Power and Light, Omaha
- Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Lincoln
Cancer and Mesothelioma Care in Nebraska
Regardless of how someone was exposed to asbestos in Nebraska, it is crucial to get immediate and regular health care. Regular screenings for illness can help catch mesothelioma early and give a victim a fighting chance to beat it. After a diagnosis, expert care is important. Nebraskans can find great treatment at the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. This is a designated comprehensive cancer center according to the National Cancer Institute, which means it is a leading facility for cutting edge research and treatment.
Nebraska Asbestos Laws
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for the state’s laws and regulations regarding the use of asbestos and working with it. Schools in the state are regularly inspected for asbestos and all school maintenance and custodial workers have to be trained in working safely around the existing asbestos. The Department of Health and Human Services requires written notification before the start of any asbestos-related project or building demolition. These job sites must follow specific rules to stop the spread of asbestos, including a 25-foot boundary with warning signs, cleaning and securing tools and wearing protective equipment. Asbestos workers must be trained and licensed by the state.
Statute of Limitations
Nebraska has set a statute of limitations both on lawsuits filed by living people with asbestos-related illnesses and those filed on behalf of dead family members. If you were exposed to asbestos and became sick because of the exposure, you have four years from the time of that diagnosis to file a lawsuit and make a claim for compensation. If you have a loved one who died from an asbestos disease, you have just two years from their death to make a similar case and file a lawsuit. Because of these time limitations, it is important to act quickly after a diagnosis or a death to make a case for justice.
Finding a Nebraska Mesothelioma Lawyer
To have the best chance of making that case successful, it is important to seek out and work with a Nebraska mesothelioma lawyer. The state is home to many experts in these types of cases who have the knowledge and the experience necessary to guide you through the legal process. You will need a great legal team to help you take all the necessary steps, to find out if you have access to an asbestos trust fund, to gather evidence to make your case, and to argue for you in a settlement or in a trial in front of a jury.
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.