Hawaii has long been home to industries that used asbestos and exposed workers and residents to this harmful mineral. The military installations, manufacturing facilities, and even public and residential buildings have been dangerous sources of asbestos. Exposure victims are now taking legal action, fighting for justice and compensation from those responsible.
If you have mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible to receive a large amount of compensation. Fill out our form to get a free Financial Compensation Packet. You’ll learn about the top mesothelioma lawyers in your area, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file a claim for the asbestos trust funds, and more.
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Hawaii Asbestos Facts
- Hawaii has no naturally-occurring asbestos, but the mineral has been imported to the islands, causing exposure issues in the state.
- Between 1999 and 2013, 589 people died from asbestos diseases.
- Of those deaths, 109 were from mesothelioma.
- Honolulu County has seen the most deaths related to asbestos exposure in the state.
Asbestos Use in Hawaii’s Military Installations
Since Hawaii is located halfway between the U.S. West Coast and Japan, the Army and Navy set up several military bases at the start of the 20th Century. Naval Station Pearl Harbor, now known as Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, began as a Navy coaling station and anchorage in 1899.
By 1940, a modernized and expanded Pearl Harbor was transformed into the main base of the Pacific Fleet, the Navy’s largest group of warships and fleet auxiliaries. Many of the Pearl Harbor’s facilities were built with construction materials containing asbestos. This includes the oil tank farm, the shipyard, the air station on Ford Island, and the Pacific Fleet headquarters, were built with construction materials containing asbestos.
To protect Pearl Harbor and the ships berthed there, the Army built various forts and air bases, including Schofield Barracks, Ft. Shafter, and Wheeler and Hickam Fields. These bases were also built with construction materials which included asbestos.
The pervasive presence of asbestos in the state’s military installations can be summed up by one statistic: According to the Honolulu Star Bulletin, in Pearl Harbor-Hickam alone, over 10,000 workers at the Naval Shipyard have been exposed to asbestos since the Second World War.
Where Else Was Asbestos Used in Hawaii?
Nearly every building constructed in Hawaii between 1898 and 1980 contained asbestos. This includes:
- Pineapple processing plants
- Auto repair shops
- Power plants
- Government buildings
- Private homes
Many workers in the construction, power generating, food processing, and manufacturing fields were exposed to asbestos on the job or put at risk of exposure.
The site of the now-closed Vermiculite of Hawaii plant in Honolulu has been evaluated by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR) as being contaminated by asbestos. From 1954 to 1983, this facility processed vermiculite from Libby, Montana, which contained high amounts of asbestos.
The ATSDR report informs former workers and residents of nearby neighborhoods that they may have been exposed to dangerous levels of exposure during Vermiculite of Hawaii’s 30-year-long operational existence.
Hawaii’s aging school facilities continue to have have large amounts of asbestos on campuses that were built as recently as 40 years ago. In December of 2004, for instance, asbestos was found in the outside paintwork of Honolulu’s King Intermediate School. Two permanent classroom buildings and one portable facility were shut down, the Honolulu Advertiser reported.
Prominent Job Sites Known to Have Asbestos Exposure
- Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyards
- Ford Island Naval Air Station
- Hickam Air Force Base
- Schofield Army Barracks
- Vermiculite of Hawaii asbestos processing plant
- Pearl Harbor Oil Tank Farm
- Maui Electric Company
- Olokele Sugar Company
Asbestos Laws in Hawaii
Under Title 11, Chapter 501, of the Hawaii Department of Health’s Administrative Rules, Hawaii made several regulations regarding handling, working around, and removing asbestos, known as asbestos abatement:
- Owners and operators of asbestos mills in Hawaii must ensure that no emissions are ejected out of the mills and into the air. In addition, they must inspect the air ducts and clean the air devices and equipment at least once a week.
- Roadways made with asbestos are strictly prohibited in Hawaii, including tailings or waste materials. Tailings containing asbestos are only acceptable if they are encapsulated into the roadway’s asphalt.
- Any manufacturer that can still legally use asbestos must ensure no emissions are leaked from the building.
- Anyone planning to demolish or renovate a building or facility that contains asbestos must always adhere to the Title 11, Chapter 501 guidelines of the Hawaii Department of Health’s Administrative Rules.
- Schools that were built with asbestos-containing materials must undergo routine inspections and maintenance, and all records must be sent to the state.
For more information, contact the Hawaii Department of Health’s Administrative Department.
Hawaii’s Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Lawsuits
In order to file an asbestos-related lawsuit in Hawaii, you must do so within that state’s statute of limitations, which include:
- Two years from the diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease
- Two years from the time of the victim’s death for wrongful death lawsuits
Getting Legal Help in Hawaii
Remember, if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for significant compensation. Get our free Financial Compensation Packet for information on the top mesothelioma and asbestos lawyers in your area. For questions and assistance, feel free to contact us at 800-793-4540.