For more than 75 years, Alabama’s economic dependence on agriculture slowed its development from a poor, rural state to a booming modern one. From the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the Second World War, the state’s residents suffered economic hardships until government defense spending helped create jobs at shipyards and military bases.
Although the economic boom of the 1940s and beyond helped the state economy to become more diversified and less agrarian, the industrialization of Alabama had negative side effects, such as the exposure of many workers to asbestos-related health risks.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that you may eligible for a considerable amount of compensation. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top Alabama mesothelioma lawyers, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more.
We offer assistance in all cities and towns in Alabama, including:
Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Hoover, Dothan, Auburn, Decatur, Madison, Florence, Phenix City, Gadsden, Prattville, Vestavia Hills, Alabaster, Opelika, Enterprise, Bessemer, Homewood, Northport, Athens, Daphne, Anniston, Prichard, Pelham, Albertville, Oxford, Trussville, Tillmans Corner, Mountain Brook, Selma, Troy, Helena, Fairhope, Center Point, Hueytown, Talladega, Foley, Millbrook, Cullman, Alexander City, Ozark, Scottsboro, Hartselle, Jasper, Fort Payne, Gardendale, Saraland, Muscle Shoals, Pell City, Eufaula, Calera, Sylacauga, Jacksonville, Moody, Irondale, Leeds, Chelsea, Fairfield, Gulf Shores, Forestdale, Saks, Pleasant Grove, Atmore, Russellville, Clay, Boaz, Rainbow City, Valley, Sheffield, Andalusia, Tuskegee Bay, Minette, Meadowbrook, Fultondale, Clanton, Tuscumbia, Southside, Guntersville, Arab, Greenville, Spanish Fort, Pike Road, Wetumpka, Demopolis, Pinson, Brook Highland ,Hamilton, Opp, Oneonta, Montevallo, Lanett, Lincoln, Monroeville, Tarrant, Meridianville, Satsuma, Roanoke, Chickasaw, and more.
Asbestos, Mesothelioma, and the Modernization of Alabama
The current upsurge of malignant mesothelioma diagnoses’ and mesothelioma lawsuits is a result of the massive industrial use of asbestos during much of the 20th Century. Although people used the naturally-occurring fibrous minerals for 4,000 years, limited exposure to asbestos is relatively harmless, and small-scale use in pre-industrialized societies revealed no health risks.
However, the demand for heavy-duty insulation and fire resistant materials grew exponentially during the Industrial Revolution, and asbestos became the additive of choice to protect factories, steel mills, oil refineries, shipyards, and power plants from fire and explosion.
The peak use of asbestos coincided with Alabama’s shift from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. The U.S. buildup of its armed forces during World War II created war jobs in shipyards, aircraft factories, and other defense production facilities. These job sites used asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) not only within the facilities themselves, but also in the ships, planes, and land vehicles manufactured there.
All this use of asbestos in Alabama’s heavy industries exacted a toll on the health of thousands of workers and military personnel. Long-term exposure to the fibrous minerals was common, and even though the asbestos industry claimed otherwise, it created a health care and legal time bomb for those exposed.
Shipfitters, pipelayers, electricians, steampipe builders, and dockyard workers from Pascagoula in neighboring Mississippi to Alabama’s biggest shipbuilding city, Mobile absorbed dangerous levels of asbestos fibers while at work. Decades later, many of these workers, now in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, developed diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and malignant mesothelioma.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Alabama is ranked 19th in the U.S. in the number of asbestos-related fatalities. From 1979 to 2001, U.S. government statistics show that between 741 to 903 residents of Alabama died from various asbestos-related illnesses. Of these, between 248 to 410 died from mesothelioma.
More current figures recorded between 1998 and 2008 rank Alabama as 23rd overall in asbestos-related deaths: during that nine-year period, there were 445 total asbestos-caused fatalities, 290 of them from mesothelioma.
Alabama Job Sites With Asbestos
- Hunt Refining Company refinery in Tuscaloosa
- Anniston U.S. Army Depot in Anniston
- Steiner Shipyard in Bayou La Batre
- Alabama Drydock & Shipbuilding in Mobile
- Austal USA shipyard in Mobile
- Gulf Shipbuilding in Chickasaw
- James M. Barry Electric Generating Plant in Bucks
- Gulf States Steel Mill in Gadsden
- Redstone Army Arsenal in Huntsville
- U.S. Army base in Ft. McClellan
- Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery
- U.S. Army Aviation Base at Ft. Rucker
Asbestos Exposure in Ships Built in Alabama
Though many cases of asbestos exposure took place in job sites within Alabama’s boundaries, sailors, soldiers, Marines and civilian passengers aboard ships built in various shipyards were also exposed. The military was a major buyer of asbestos and ACMs, especially for use in Navy warships, oil tankers, and other support vessels.
As in manufacturing, the reasons behind the liberal application of asbestos were to protect ships and their crews from fire at sea. Asbestos is also a good conductor of electricity and a fine insulator, so the fibrous minerals are found in almost every part of a World War II era ship. Asbestos is in the steam pipes, the ship’s turbines, hull spaces, and even the wiring of the electronic devices of the time.
The personnel most often exposed to asbestos usually were shipyard workers or worked in maintenance details aboard ship. Soldiers, Marines, and non-engineering division sailors also were exposed when fibers were kicked up during battles or at-sea repair jobs. Finally, when Navy and civilian vessels built in Alabama shipyards returned for refits or repairs, the workers there received more exposure to asbestos and ACMs. This is one of the reasons why males who were of working age in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s tend to be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma more than women of the same demographic group.
Asbestos in Alabama
Because asbestos was used in construction in a vast scale, construction workers and heavy-equipment operators who worked in construction sites throughout Alabama are also at high risk of being diagnosed with asbestos cancer and asbestosis. Asbestos can be found in buildings predating the 1970s, especially in schools, auto repair shops, public buildings such as courthouses and town halls, and private residences and apartment buildings.
Keep in mind that although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed asbestos as a carcinogenic substance, there’s no universal ban of its use. It can no longer be legally mined in the U.S., and its use in such products as roofing tiles, drywall joint filling compound cement board, and acoustic materials has been replaced by the use of substitute materials.
Nevertheless, many structures built before the 1980s contain asbestos, including in homes built in earlier periods during the 20th Century.
Normally, asbestos deposits in older buildings are not dangerous unless the fibers are stirred up. In most cases, this occurs only when maintenance workers or renovators are carrying out routine repair work or upgrading the buildings.
Any human activity, ranging from the use of electric saws or cleaning floors with non-HEPA filter vacuum cleaners, will stir up asbestos fibers and contaminate the air.
Alabama Asbestos Legal Issues
Pursuing asbestos litigation in Alabama is difficult. The state has placed a one-year statute of limitations on asbestos lawsuits, which makes suing companies where asbestos exposure took place nearly impossible. The slow development of mesothelioma, which can take up to 50 years before it is diagnosed, exceeds this one-year limit.
Nevertheless, as difficult as it seems, an asbestos law firm can take a claim from a Alabama plaintiff and have the case tried out of state. In 1998, a jury in Texas awarded $115 million to 21 steel workers exposed to asbestos at an Alabama steel mill. Transferring the case to Texas was necessary because Alabama’s legal system placed the plaintiffs in a nearly-impossible “Catch-22” situation.
Alabama Asbestos Laws
According to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, there are several laws in place to protect the public, as well as anyone who works around asbestos:
- Before any asbestos removal, whether from homes, building, or facilities, you must first inform the state in writing of what kind of asbestos will be disturbed (friable or not) as well as what method will be used to remove and dispose of the asbestos.
Anyone who plans to remove asbestos must be certified as an asbestos removal professional through the state of Alabama.
All asbestos removal technicians in Alabama must follow the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) guidelines.
Before beginning any project that will disrupt asbestos, requests must be written to the state within 10 days prior of starting the activities.
Smaller asbestos abatement project do not require prior authorization from the state. Smaller projects include spaces of less than 35 cubic feet, 260 linear feet, and/or 160 square feet.
Public school buildings built with asbestos must be inspected and maintained on a regular basis. The school districts must send written reports of all maintenance and inspections to the state, as well as keep an emergency plan on file in the event that asbestos is disrupted.
For more detailed information or if you have any questions or concerns before starting a project that includes removing or disturbing asbestos, contact the DEM at 334-271-7700.
Getting Medical Help in Alabama
Living with an asbestos-related disease and finding the best mesothelioma treatment is never an easy task for victims. It’s important to find a physician that specializes in asbestos-related diseases.
The University of Alabama Comprehensive Care Center in Birmingham is a NCI-designated care center with researchers, physicians, cancer experts, and healthcare specialists that focus on mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. In fact, the study and research of malignant mesothelioma has been a part of the center for over 20 years.
It’s always recommended to seek treatment from a care center that specializes specifically in the disease you’re suffering from. A typical small family clinic and/or a general practitioner usually don’t have the expertise and knowledge that a physician who specializes in asbestos cancer has.
Alabama Statute of Limitations on Mesothelioma and Asbestos Cases
The statutes of limitations for filing an asbestos-related lawsuit is quite strict when compared with most other states. Plaintiffs have only one year from the time of diagnosis or one year within the time the asbestos-related disease should have been reasonably diagnosed. Wrongful death lawsuits must also be filed within one year of the victim’s date of death.
Legal Help in Alabama
Remember, if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for significant compensation. Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading Alabama asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area. If you need additional assistance, contact us toll-free at 800-793-4540.
Profit Without Honor: White-Collar Crime and the Looting of America, Fifth Edition. Stephen Rosoff, Henry Pontell, and Robert Tillman. Prentice Hall. (2010). Retrieved from: http://wps.pearsoncustom.com/wps/media/objects/3212/3289419/CJ435_Ch04.pdf