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North Dakota ranks near the bottom of the 50 states for asbestos-related deaths from mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. The Roughrider State never had a lot of industrial jobs, the main way in which people are exposed to asbestos; its economy has long been based on agriculture and ranching. The state is not exempt, though, and many residents have been exposed and some have gotten sick with mesothelioma and other illnesses. Workers in the oil industry and at power plants, military personnel, workers at vermiculite processing plants, and residents living near natural deposits of a mineral called erionite, have all been put at risk of exposure and illness.
Asbestos in North Dakota
The dangers of working or being around asbestos are well known now, but for many years North Dakotans worked with it not knowing the risk of serious illness. Workplace exposure is the most common way that people are harmed by asbestos. In North Dakota there is not a lot of industry, but there are power plants and oil refineries that have exposed workers. Military installations and older buildings throughout the state have asbestos that can expose workers and residents. In the western part of the state, erionite, a mineral similar to asbestos is just now being studied and the harm it has caused could be extensive.
North Dakota is one of many states with processing facilities that received shipments of vermiculite from the asbestos-tainted W.R. Grace vermiculite mine. The vermiculite mined there from the 1920s through 1990 was contaminated with asbestos and was processed at plants across the country. Workers in these plants, and residents nearby, were all put at risk of asbestos exposure and illness. Many of these plants are abandoned and still need to be cleaned up.
One North Dakota plant that received Libby vermiculite was the Robinson Insulation Plant in Minot. Thousands of tons of asbestos-tainted material were shipped here over a few decades. Not only were the workers processing it put at risk, but so were nearby residents. Eventually the city purchased the abandoned plant and demolished all buildings.
Minot residents were once again put at risk of asbestos exposure in 2011 when floods swept through the town destroying many buildings. The older buildings contained asbestos, including the Zonolite insulation that was produced in the Robinson plant. The flooding spread asbestos around, and put people at risk for being exposed to it.
Erionite – Asbestos Impostor
North Dakota does not have any naturally-occurring asbestos, but it does have plenty of erionite, a mineral similar to asbestos and that can release fibers into the air. People around it may inhale these fibers, which then accumulate in the lungs and other tissues, much like asbestos does.
The Kildeer Mountains in western North Dakota contain deposits of this mineral, which has been mined and used heavily in roadbuilding in that part of the state. The state government and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been trying to enlist volunteers in the region to undergo health screenings to find out the effects of breathing in fibers from the road materials.
Erionite was first implicated in behaving like asbestos and causing mesothelioma by researchers in Turkey. There people live around natural deposits of the mineral and use it for various purposes. Researchers found that these people had higher-than-average rates of mesothelioma diagnoses. Other states in the west of the U.S. have erionite deposits, but North Dakota’s are among the largest and the state has used the mineral on rural roads more than other states.
Sites Known to Have Asbestos
Vermiculite plants that received shipments from Libby, Montana, and the erionite that still exists in the roads and natural deposits of western North Dakota, represent some of the biggest threats to North Dakotans. However, other buildings and work sites put people at risk. These include industrial plants, power plants, and military buildings, but also just older homes and public buildings that were constructed with asbestos:
- M. Heskett Power Station, Mandan
- Otter Tail Power Company Coyote Station, Beulah
- Fargo Foundry Company and Mid-America Steel, Fargo
- F-M Insulation, Fargo
- Minot Air Force Base, Minot
- BP Amoco North Dakota, Mandan
- American Oil Refinery, Mandan
- North Dakota State University, Fargo
- Grand Forks Air Force Base, Grand Forks
- Northern States Power Company, Grand Forks
- Standard Oil Company, Mandan
North Dakota Asbestos Laws
North Dakota’s Department of Health oversees rules regarding the use and handling of asbestos in the state, including federal laws relating to asbestos. Renovation and demolition projects that include more than three square feet of asbestos-containing materials cannot proceed until notification has been sent to the department. The state also requires that these projects follow certain safety guidelines, including proper ventilation and the wetting of asbestos to prevent fibers from becoming airborne. The Department of Health also dictates proper protocol for disposing of asbestos materials.
Statute of Limitations
Most states have a statute of limitations on filing lawsuits over asbestos-related illnesses. North Dakota’s is generous, allowing six years from the time of diagnosis for a suit to be filed. This means that if you are diagnosed with a condition related to asbestos, you have six years to decide if you want to file a lawsuit against an employer or other party that may be responsible for your asbestos exposure. For a wrongful death suit in the event that you lose a loved one, you have less time. The statute of limitations is two years from the time of death.
North Dakota Mesothelioma Lawyers Now Available
If you did become sick with mesothelioma or a similar illness because you were exposed to asbestos without being aware or being given the proper training and safety equipment, you can rely on a North Dakota mesothelioma lawyer to help you file a lawsuit. You need an experienced professional on your side to help you make your case and advocate for you. It is easy to make mistakes if you do not have the experience or if you try to take legal action alone.
When a case is made by an experienced legal team, the results can be positive for the plaintiff. This was the case in North Dakota when Richard Anderson sued Owens-Corning over exposure he experienced when working with their products as a boiler worker at Minot Air Force Base. Anderson worked with insulation that contained asbestos and was eventually diagnosed with asbestosis. The jury awarded him $340,000. You too could make a successful case against a company to get compensation, but you need the guidance of a North Dakota mesothelioma lawyer.
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.