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Oregon’s most important industries have helped the economy thrive, but have also contributed to years of asbestos exposure for the state’s workers and residents. Major industries here include agriculture and fishing, but also asbestos-heavy work like shipbuilding; timber, pulp, and paper processing; and mining, including the extraction of asbestos.
Oregon ranks high among states for asbestos-related deaths from mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer because of these industries and the naturally-occurring asbestos in the state. Now, Oregon mesothelioma lawyers are fighting against the employers and companies that put so many people at risk of exposure and illness. If you have mesothelioma or another asbestos illness, you can rely on these mesothelioma lawyers to help you get justice.
Asbestos in Oregon
All states have had problems with asbestos, and Oregon is no exception. Most states are still dealing with the consequences of widespread past asbestos use. Although there are now federal, state, and local regulations on how asbestos is used, it still poses a significant threat to residents and workers. Buildings were constructed with asbestos insulation and other materials that can contaminate the air and harm people if disturbed by renovation or demolition.
Oregon also has specific industries that have caused people to be exposed, and that still puts people at risk. These include the timber industry with its factories for processing pulp and paper. Shipbuilding has also been a primary industry along the Pacific coast and one that relied heavily on asbestos. Finally, mining and natural deposits of asbestos have exposed workers in the past and continue to put Oregonians at risk of harm.
Asbestos Deposits and Mining
Oregon is home to several natural deposits of asbestos, mainly in the southwest and the northeast. Several of these deposits were active asbestos mines, producing the material and exposing workers to the harmful fibers. Any residents nearby were also exposed as the mining stirred up fibers and contaminated the air. While asbestos mining has ceased, the naturally-occurring asbestos still poses a risk. Any work or construction project that disturbs the asbestos can lead to exposure in nearby residents and workers.
The Lumber and Paper Industry
Lumber has long been a major industry in this heavily-forested state. Workers did not just cut down trees, though. They processed the lumber to make wood pulp and paper. Lumber, pulp, and paper mills all used asbestos in boilers, in insulation, and in the machinery and equipment workers used, putting those employees at risk of exposure. The Chiloquin Lumber and Box Company in Klamath County operated for decades until 1988. Asbestos cleanup at the site didn’t start until 2005. In the years in between, nearby residents were put at risk of exposure.
Shipbuilding and Asbestos
Oregon has an important maritime industry that included shipbuilding. Asbestos was used heavily in ship construction, particularly during World War II. It was cheap and common, added lightweight strength to other materials, and was fireproof, which made it attractive to shipwrights.
Anyone who worked in or around shipyards in Oregon when asbestos was used so heavily was likely exposed. Those at the most significant risk of getting sick were workers who built or repaired ships and handled asbestos materials, such as spray-on asbestos insulation used in many ships. The high use of asbestos on vessels helps to explain why U.S. Navy veterans have some of the highest rates of mesothelioma.
North Ridge Estates Superfund Site
Oregon is home to several Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund sites, many of which contain asbestos. One is the North Ridge Estates, a residential community in Klamath Falls, built on the former site of a military barracks that was constructed with asbestos insulation, roofing, tiles, and other materials.
When the asbestos-laden barracks were demolished, the asbestos materials were simply covered with soil instead of being encapsulated or removed from the site. The modern subdivision was built atop a contaminated stew of dirt and asbestos. The EPA listed North Ridge Estates as a top priority for cleanup. Several feet of soil need to be removed from the site and cleanup is not yet complete. In the meantime, families there have been put at risk of exposure and illness.
Other Sites in Oregon with Asbestos
In addition to timber and paper, shipbuilding, construction, and mining, Oregon was home to many other industries and buildings that used asbestos and exposed workers and residents. These include military installations, metalworking plants, power plants, and others. A few of these are:
- Georgia-Pacific Corporation, Clatskanie
- Southern Pacific Railroad, Klamath Falls
- Oregon Pulp and Paper Company, Salem
- Eugene Water and Electric Board Plant, Eugene
- Weyerhaeuser Lumber, Eugene
- Henry J. Kaiser Shipyard, Swan Island
- Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland
- Martin-Marietta Aluminum Plant, The Dalles
- Northwestern Electric Company, Portland
- Publishers Paper, Portland and Oregon City
- Roseburg Lumber Company, Dillard
- Albina Shipyard, Portland
- Burns Air Force Radar Station, Burns
- Oregon Steel Mills, Portland
Asbestos Laws in Oregon
Laws regarding asbestos use and handling are administered through Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality. The department oversees federal laws and administers state-level regulations. Anyone who will be working with asbestos must be certified by the state. Asbestos abatement projects have to be cleared through the department and disposal must be done carefully and at a licensed facility.
Mesothelioma Care in Oregon
If you have been exposed to asbestos in Oregon, whether on the job or some other way, you need to be screened regularly. The sooner you get a diagnosis for mesothelioma the better because the cancer is easier to treat in early stages. If you are diagnosed, look for the best cancer care you can find. In Oregon, the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland is a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center. This distinction means you can expect expert care with leading treatments from experienced staff who are also working on the latest cancer research.
Statute of Limitations
The state of Oregon has set limits on when you can file a lawsuit for asbestos-related illnesses or for the death of a loved one from asbestos exposure. The statute of limitations is three years from the diagnosis of an illness and three years from the time of death. The time limit is meant to discourage frivolous lawsuits, but it also means that true victims of asbestos exposure may miss out on much-needed compensation. Because of these limits, it is important that you act quickly to take legal action.
Find an Oregon Mesothelioma Lawyer
The best way to make sure you do not miss out because of the statute of limitations, or because of other mistakes, is to rely on the help of an Oregon mesothelioma lawyer. When you search for one of these professionals or a legal team devoted to helping mesothelioma victims, you get the best chance of filing a lawsuit that will be successful. Many people have won justice and compensation, but others have failed. You need the best on your side, so look for a lawyer with the knowledge and the experience in getting asbestos victims settlement wins.
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.