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North Carolina has seen thousands of recent deaths related to asbestos exposure, including deaths from mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. The extensive exposure to asbestos in the Tar Heel State can be attributed to several areas and workplaces, from asbestos mines to military installations that led to a number of veterans being diagnosed with asbestos illnesses.
Today the rules are much stricter regarding working around and with asbestos, but much damage has already been done. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition, rely on a North Carolina mesothelioma lawyer to help you file the lawsuit that could get you justice as well as compensation for your expenses.
Asbestos in North Carolina
In most states, the main cause of asbestos exposure has been workplace handling of asbestos or simply working in facilities that used asbestos. In North Carolina, many people worked in industrial settings that used asbestos or that required workers to handle the material, such as manufacturing plants, power plants, tobacco companies, chemical plants, and others.
North Carolina also has a long history of shipping and shipbuilding along its Atlantic coast. Workers in shipyards and on ships were exposed in the past because asbestos was used extensively, in nearly every part of a ship for fireproofing and other uses. Several notable military facilities in the state, like Fort Bragg, have caused exposure. The state also has a lot of natural asbestos deposits and several former asbestos mines that have contributed to the high number of asbestos-related deaths in North Carolina.
Naturally-Occurring Asbestos and Mines
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, North Carolina has 12 natural deposits of asbestos, 10 former prospects, and 27 former asbestos mines, more mines by far than any other eastern state. All of these deposits and former mines are in the western part of the state, in the Appalachian Mountains and foothills. The former asbestos mines exposed many people to the harmful mineral in the past. Mining the natural deposits also put nearby residents at risk. The waste products and loose fibers may have contaminated soil, water, and air.
People are still at risk now because of naturally-occurring asbestos in the state. Old asbestos mines typically leave behind contaminated soil that when stirred up can contaminate the air and expose residents. There are active mines in the western part of the state that mine other minerals, but which may also disrupt natural asbestos deposits, causing more contamination and exposure. Counties with naturally-occurring asbestos include Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Jackson, Macon, Mitchell, Transylvania, and Yancey.
High Point, North Carolina was the home of a W.R. Grace vermiculite processing plant. W.R. Grace operated a large vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, and from the 1950s through 1990 produced millions of tons of this mineral contaminated with asbestos. The tainted vermiculite was shipped to processing plants around the country where it was made into several products. At the High Point facility, workers processed thousands of tons and were put at risk of developing asbestos related illnesses. W.R. Grace eventually provided money to the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up this and other similar sites. Workers, and nearby residents, were likely exposed for several years while the plant operated.
Military Facilities with Asbestos
Veterans are among the hardest hit groups anywhere in the country in terms of asbestos exposure and related illnesses. In North Carolina, several military facilities were known to have asbestos and to have put servicemen and women at risk of exposure. These include Johnson Air Force Base, the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and Fort Bragg.
All of these have had asbestos, but Fort Bragg put soldiers at particular risk of exposure. In 2008 a story broke that found soldiers had been ordered to scrape up and throw out asbestos floor tiles. They were working without proper safety equipment or training, exposed to asbestos, for over a week. Soldiers nearby were also likely exposed to the asbestos in the flooring. The U.S. Army acknowledged that protocol was not followed, but also claimed the soldiers were never put in harm’s way.
Other Sites Known to Have Asbestos
In North Carolina, numerous workplaces and buildings contained asbestos and likely put people at risk of exposure and getting sick. These range from power plants to shipyards to military facilities and include:
- Raleigh Electric Company, Raleigh
- Wake Forest College, Winston-Salem
- Sutton Steam Plant, Wilmington
- J. Reynolds Tobacco, Winston-Salem
- North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, Wilmington
- Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point
- Pope Air Force Base, Manchester
- Carolina Power and Light, Georgetown
- Allied Chemical, Wilmington
- Owens Corning Fiberglass Plant, Charlotte
Comprehensive Cancer Care in North Carolina
North Carolinians who were exposed to asbestos should be screened regularly for signs of asbestos contamination and for signs of cancer and other illnesses. They also need to get the best possible medical care if they are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another cancer. Three facilities in the state have been designated by the National Cancer Institute as comprehensive cancer centers, facilities conducting research and providing cutting-edge treatment: Duke Cancer Institute, University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University.
North Carolina Asbestos Laws
North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services oversees rules, regulations, and ordinances relating to asbestos management in the Tar Heel State. Schools that contain asbestos must be monitored and regularly checked and maintained to keep asbestos intact or to abate it. Permits through the state are required before any asbestos-related project is begun, which includes fees. And, any asbestos that needs to be disposed of must be transported and labeled in a certain way and disposed of only in approved facilities.
Statute of Limitations
If you become sick because of asbestos exposure, you have just three years from the time you received your diagnosis to take legal action against those parties you believe to be negligent. If you have lost a loved one to one of these illnesses, you have two years from the time of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Because of these statutes of limitations, it is important that you take action quickly to make sure you do not run out of time to make a case for compensation and justice.
Finding and Working with a North Carolina Mesothelioma Lawyer
The best way to get around the limited time is to rely on a North Carolina mesothelioma lawyer. You need a professional or team with the experience and knowledge to go up against the big companies that are responsible for exposing workers to asbestos and their resulting illnesses. A lawyer will help you go through all the necessary steps to file a lawsuit, will gather the evidence you need to make your case, and will be your advocate in settlement agreements and in court if your case goes before a judge or jury. With a knowledgeable lawyer you can be sure you won’t make the mistakes that could cost you 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.