According to Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), there are major deposits of naturally occurring asbestos (NOAs) in various regions of the state. Four large concentrations of NOAs are found in the panhandle region. Two are located close to Juneau, the state capital, and Ketchikan. Two more natural deposits of asbestos are found near the Kobuk Valley and the Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks on the Yukon River. These deposits occur as a result of geologic activity in the state and are harmless if they are left undisturbed by human activity. However, most of the asbestos-related illnesses and deaths, such as malignant mesothelioma are caused by exposure to man-made asbestos-containing materials.
It’s important to note that if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify to receive significant compensation. Fill out our form to get a free Financial Compensation Packet. You’ll learn about the top Alaska mesothelioma lawyers, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file a claim for the asbestos trust funds, and more.
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Alaska Defense and Civilian Job Sites with Known Asbestos Use
According to the DEC’s Spill Prevention and Response (SPAR) division, many sites once used by the Department of Defense and its separate armed branches are contaminated with man-made asbestos materials.
The Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line of radar stations stretched across Alaska and Canada’s Arctic regions in the 1950s and 1960s. Set up to provide early warning of Soviet bomber flights or missile launches across the Arctic Circle, the DEW stations were considered America’s first line of defense. Its facilities included state-of-the-art radars and other electronic devices. Personnel assigned to DEW stations lived in military-style housing and used jeeps, planes and other forms of government transportation. Asbestos was present in all of these, and many military personnel were exposed to asbestos-containing materials.
The former DEW site known as Collinson Point was contaminated by various hazardous materials. Also known as Brownlow Point, Collinson Point ceased operations in 1963 but it was polluted by fuel spills, chemical residues found in abandoned drums, asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Although the site has been cleaned up by state and federal environmental agencies, asbestos and other dangerous contaminants were in the topsoil and surface water at Collinson Point for many decades.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s Elmendorf Field is the Air Force component of a major military facility near Anchorage. Before 2010, it was known as Elmendorf Air Force Base. It became active in 1940 as an Army Air Force installation with a mission to protect Alaska’s oil fields from enemy air attacks. The base utilized asbestos containing materials in large quantities for much of its existence. Though asbestos-containing materials were found in aircraft, vehicles, electronic equipment and even building materials, the highest concentrations were in the base’s powerhouse. Asbestos was used in electrical generation plants as insulation and fireproofing material, and many workers were exposed to airborne fibers.
Other Alaska Job Sites With Known Asbestos Use
Although military facilities were large-scale users of asbestos containing materials, other enterprises relied on the minerals for their various useful purposes. Asbestos resist heat, chemical reactions, and are well-suited as natural insulators. Industries such as shipbuilding, oil production, manufacturing, steel and iron works, and electricity generation used asbestos to protect their facilities from fires and heat-related damage. Before the 1970s, the asbestos mining industry managed to suppress data that their main product was toxic to humans. This deliberate suppression of facts, as well as the slow development of mesothelioma, led many industrialists to believe asbestos was safe. Unfortunately, the symptoms of mesothelioma can take decades to surface.
Thus, for the first half of the 20th Century, Alaskan workers were exposed to asbestos fibers in the workplace, at schools, and at home. According to Alaska’s DEC Division of Air Quality, asbestos fibers are found in commercial products now in use. These products include cement shingles, vinyl/asbestos floor tiles, brake pads, corrugated sheets, pipe and furnace wraps, and textured paints.
Asbestos-containing materials have been found in many facilities throughout Alaska, including these…
Job Sites and Military Bases
- Adak Naval Air Station
- Alaska Pulp Corporation
- Port Heiden Clams
- Arctic Surplus
- Collinson Point Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line site
- Eielson Air Force Base
- Ft. Richardson U.S. Army Base
- Ft. Wainwright U.S. Army Base
- Galena Airport/Galena Air Force Station
- Galena Radar Base
- Ambler Gravel Pit
- Salt Chuck Mine
- Cape Romanzof Long Range Radar (LRR) Site
- Bullen Point Radar Installation
- Elmendorf Air Force Base
In addition, public buildings, including schools, courthouses, and other government facilities built before 1980 may contain deposits of asbestos. Asbestos fibers are harmless if they are not disturbed by human activity. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have strict guidelines on asbestos abatement. Any building scheduled for renovation work or demolition first undergoes a thorough abatement-and-disposal process.This is to prevent asbestos fibers from spreading into the environment. Inspections and removal of asbestos should only be done by EPA certified abatement contractors with safe work practices and experience in handling asbestos.
Alaska Asbestos Laws
The State of Alaska Occupational Safety and Health mandates several laws that must be met when working around any area, facility, building, or home that contains asbestos. These laws were set into place to ensure the utmost safety is practiced when people come into contact with asbestos:
Only those professionally trained to handle asbestos can legally abate, disrupt and/or remove asbestos, regardless of where it is located. Training for handling asbestos in Alaska is in-depth and comprehensive, consisting of several courses, training, and tests.
All workers must wear respirators while around asbestos, and warning signs must be placed in clear view around the work areas.
Asbestos must be collected and transported to appropriate landfills by professionals only.
While being transported for disposal, all packages must be securely sealed with warning labels prominently placed on each package.
Once the asbestos reaches an authorized landfill, it must immediately be inspected and then disposed of.
Homeowners should always have their homes properly tested for asbestos before renovation and demolitions if the home was built prior to the 1980s.
For more information and for more detailed instructions on handling asbestos in Alaska, contact the Alaska Occupational Health and Safety offices at the following phone numbers:
Alaska Statute of Limitations on Mesothelioma and Asbestos Cases
Under Alaska Statutes, Title 18, Chapter 31, and the Alaska Statute 23.30.105 (a), plaintiffs filing an asbestos lawsuit for compensation must do so within two years of learning of their condition via diagnosis or within two years of which the asbestos-related disease should have been reasonably discovered. However, latent injuries in Alaska are the exception. If the victim has a latent injury, meaning the condition was present but the symptom had yet to surface, then the statutes of limitations begins when the injury is discovered. For wrongful death lawsuits, plaintiffs must file within two years from the date of the victim’s death.
Getting Legal Help in Alaska
Keep in mind that if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you’ll need an experienced mesothelioma attorney to help you have your best chances of winning your case.Don’t forget to fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area. If you have questions or need additional assistance, contact us at 800-793-4540.