North American Refractories Company, better known as NARCO , manufactured and supplied numerous refractory products for use in high-heat applications. The company was known for its quality products and in turn, had long-term financial success. However, its use asbestos in a myriad of products ultimately costs the company billions, resulting in a long list of mesothelioma lawsuits and other asbestos-related claims. NARCO eventually filed for bankruptcy and set up an asbestos trust fund to help compensate all future asbestos-related cases.
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Narco was founded in 1929 as a cement refractory manufacturer. For over 50 years, the company remained one of the largest businesses in its field. As the company grew over the years, numerous products were added to its line, including hearths, stove fittings, and more. Many of these products were developed after NARCO merged with other companies, including the Worldwide Glass Industry, Harbison-Walker, RHI Refractories, and numerous other independent manufacturers.
As NARCO expanded, so did its locations. Manufacturing plants were open in several states, including Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Most of the company’s products required a heat and fire-resistant material to work properly. NARCO chose asbestos due to its affordability and ability to withstand extremely high temperatures and fire.
When the company began using asbestos, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had yet to place strict regulations on its use, but there were already many medical studies that indicated that asbestos was extremely hazardous. In fact, numerous companies knew of the dangers of asbestos and how it can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer. However, most of the warnings were ignored by numerous manufacturing companies that were more concerned with making a large profit, even if it meant putting workers at risk.
In 1979, Honeywell purchased NARCO and merged into the Honeywell Heating. Shortly after, Honeywell began selling NARCO’s refractory products throughout the nation. Several years later, AHN By this time, the company no longer used asbestos in its products, but the long history of the toxic mineral’s use led to so many asbestos-related claims and lawsuits that the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
NARCO Lawsuits and Bankruptcy
Court documents indicate that by the early 2000s, NARCO was facing close to 300,000 asbestos-related claims and lawsuits. The company settled a majority of these cases out of court, but as the claims kept coming in in massive amounts, NARCO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2002, with the agreement that it would set up an asbestos trust fund to compensate future and pending asbestos-related cases.
In 2008, NARCO emerged from bankruptcy and established The NARCO Abestos Trust. The trust fund began accepting claims on October 15, 2013. It was funded with a little over $6 billion.
Meanwhile, Honeywell faced other claims for its other asbestos-related products unrelated to NARCO. Although the NARCO division filed for bankruptcy, Honeywell fought numerous cases in court, including one lawsuit in which the company lost over $50 million after a former mechanic developed mesothelioma while working asbestos-containing products at Honeywell’s Bendix division.
Occupations Affected by NARCO
As with many manufacturers, NARCO supplied its products to numerous different companies, which in turn affected a wide variety of workers. The most common types of workers that were affected by asbestos in NARCO’s products include:
- Sheet workers
- Metal workers
- NARCO plant workers
NARCO Asbestos-Containg Products
NARCO manufactured asbestos-containing products for many years, including the following:
- BOF-Cote and BOF-Patch
- W0-339 MC Gun
- Anti-Erode Towel
- CM Gun Mix (including CM-18 Gun Mix)
- MC Gun Mix
- Narcocrete Trowel
- Narcogun CR-346
- Narcogun CR-346NN
- Narcogun CRD-347
- Narcogun MC-339
- Narcogun MCD-344
- Narcogun P-340
- Narcogun PD-345
- Narcogun SD-336
- Narmag 60 DBRC
- Narmag OH Gun Mix
- Super 505 Hot Gun C
- Narcmag OH Gun Mix
Resources for Asbestos Victims
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