Westinghouse Electric Company provides products and services for the nuclear power industry and, in the past, manufactured alternating current electrical systems for electric utility companies. Westinghouse Electric regularly used asbestos in its machinery and electrical equipment, which led to lawsuits over asbestos illnesses. Westinghouse never filed for bankruptcy nor created an asbestos trust for victims.
Westinghouse Electric Corporation has gone through several transitions over the years. Founded in the 1880s, the company is significantly different today. One thing that remains the same is its involvement in energy and power generation.
From the early days of electricity to modern nuclear power, Westinghouse has continued to supply utilities. Westinghouse now leads the nuclear power industry by providing equipment and services needed to build, run, maintain, and dismantle nuclear plants.
Westinghouse Electric Company was founded in 1886 by George Westinghouse, the inventor of the air brake. Westinghouse started the company to manufacture electrical systems using alternate current.
This was a controversial practice at the time, as the United States was using direct current. Westinghouse was right, however. Alternating current was the way of the future, and the company thrived as a result of his choice.
The name changed to Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and its headquarters moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By 1945, the company had grown, branching out into more areas of electrical products.
After World War II, Westinghouse became an important supplier to electric utilities, providing machinery and services needed to generate electricity at power plants, distribute electricity, and maintain electrical power.
The company also made electrical appliances for residential markets until the mid-1970s. Many Westinghouse products were manufactured with asbestos.
After World War II, Westinghouse expanded into the nuclear industry, making reactors for nuclear power plants and submarines used by the United States Navy. The company also manufactured radar equipment and other electronics for military use.
In the 1990s, Westinghouse branched out into television and radio, purchasing CBS in 1995 and Infinity Broadcasting in 1996. In 1997, Westinghouse ditched its classic name and became CBS Corporation. Viacom then bought CBS. Toshiba ultimately purchased Westinghouse Electric, and today it supplies the nuclear power industry.
Use of Asbestos
For many years, Westinghouse made a full range of parts, equipment, and machinery used to generate and distribute electric power. The company also manufactured home appliances. Many of these products required insulation, and asbestos was an obvious choice to contain electricity and resist extreme temperatures and fire.
Asbestos is a natural mineral that is a highly effective insulator for temperature, electricity, and fireproofing. Like many other companies, Westinghouse once regularly used asbestos to manufacture many of its products.
Many of the components used in power plants, nuclear reactors, and electrical plants also used asbestos. Some Westinghouse products that contained asbestos were turbines, gaskets, electronic equipment, caulking paste, micarta insulation, light bulbs, power lines and cables, packing materials, and laminate.
People who worked in Westinghouse factories were put at serious risk of asbestos exposure and developing related illnesses. These workers handled and manipulated asbestos during the manufacturing process. Its tiny fibers can flake off when asbestos is handled and cover the work area in asbestos dust.
When inhaled or ingested, that dust can cause serious tissue damage over time. This damage leads to mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases like lung cancer or asbestosis for some people.
Others at risk of exposure to Westinghouse asbestos were workers in the electrical and power industries. Power plant workers, pipefitters, steamfitters, workers who installed or maintained turbines, and others who handled Westinghouse products could have been exposed to this harmful mineral.
One major source of asbestos contamination caused by Westinghouse products was the turbine manufactured for ship engine rooms. These turbines were used in Navy ships and are known to have caused asbestos exposure. Although turbines were not the only components of Navy ships that contained asbestos, they were a significant source. Mesothelioma rates are higher in Navy veterans than in the general population for this reason.
Westinghouse eventually stopped using asbestos for manufacturing its products. However, the effects of exposure lingered. As many workers became sick with asbestos-related diseases, they filed lawsuits against the companies responsible.
Compared to other companies that used asbestos, Westinghouse did not face many lawsuits. The company fought about 3,000 lawsuits, with some going in the company’s favor and others favoring settlement for victims.
For example, the family of a man who worked in a shipyard and later died of mesothelioma was awarded $7.25 million to be paid by Westinghouse and General Electric.
Unlike many companies that used asbestos, Westinghouse did not file for bankruptcy. The company fought litigation instead. Although there is no asbestos trust for Westinghouse, those with valid asbestos cases can still file a lawsuit.
It has been challenging to connect liability to the company because it has repeatedly changed hands. However, it is still possible to make a case and receive compensation.
If you believe Westinghouse products caused your mesothelioma or lung cancer, you may have a case to claim compensation. Let an experienced asbestos lawyer guide you through the process. With expertise on your side, you stand a much better chance of receiving justice.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Edited by Patient Advocate Dave Foster
Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.