North Dakota’s small and mostly rural population is ranked 46th in the nation for asbestos-related deaths. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 623 North Dakota residents have died from malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
North Dakota residents are less likely to face asbestos exposure when compared to some of the other states in the nation, as the state’s economy is driven primarily by farming and ranching. This is in sharp contrast to such states as California or Texas which have larger industrial-based economies. North Dakota has one of the lowest numbers of mesothelioma lawsuits in the U.S.
However, its proximity to Montana and that state’s mining activity continues to pose a threat of asbestos exposure to North Dakota residents. There is also evidence that links exposure to erionite, a mineral with properties that resemble asbestos and is widely used to pave roads and other surfaces, to malignant mesothelioma.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top mesothelioma lawyers in North Dakota, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more.
We offer assistance to all asbestos victims and their families in North Dakota, including:
Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, Minot, West Fargo, Williston, Dickinson, Mandan, Jamestown, Wahpeton, Devils Lake, Valley City, Minot AFB, Grafton, Beulah, Watford City, Lincoln, Rugby, Horace, Casselton, Grand Forks AFB, Hazen, New Town, Bottineau, Lisbon, Carrington, Stanley, Mayville, Belcourt, Oakes, Langdon, Harvey, Bowman, Hillsboro, Tioga, Garrison, New Rockford, Park River, Larimore, Ellendale, Rolla, Washburn, Crosby, Shell Valley, Fort Totten, Cavalier, Velva, Hettinger, Parshall, Cando, Surrey, Kenmare Beach, Linton, Burlington, Thompson, Wishek, Belfield, Killdeer, Walhalla, Northwood, LaMoure, Cooperstown, New Salem, Hankinson, Cannon Ball, Enderlin, Mapleton, Mohall, Dunseith, Gwinner, Drayton, Mott, Hatton, Napoleon, Mandaree, Glen, Ullin, Underwood, Ray, Harwood, Wilton, Ashley, Kindred, Hebron, Steele, Lakota, Milnor, Lidgerwood, New England, Elgin, Minto, Portland, Rolette, Turtle Lake Center, Reile’s Acres, Pembina, Towner, Edgeley, Richardton, Forman, Berthold, Green Acres, Four Bears Village, Argusville, Fessenden, and more.
North Dakota, Asbestos, and Mesothelioma
Around 90% of North Dakota land is made up of hundreds of farms, and the state is a major grower of corn, barley, oats, and various types of wheat. Farms and ranches are not job sites where workers are typically exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos fibers.
This doesn’t mean that North Dakotans are exempt from the dangers of asbestos. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were widely used as fire/heat inhibitors, insulation and conductors of electricity in construction, power generation plants, automotive parts, and military facilities for much of the 20th Century.
Homes, schools, courthouses, auto repair shops, airports and railroad yards built in North Dakota between the 1930s and mid-1980s could have building materials with ACMs. Most of the asbestos used in North Dakota was mined in the neighboring state of Montana, particularly in mines near the town of Libby.
Although agriculture is the main driver of the state’s economy, North Dakota is also a producer of energy, primarily of petroleum, coal, and shale gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), North Dakota is the nation’s second-largest source of oil, producing over 575,000 barrels of oil per day.
According to the North Dakota Petroleum Council, more than 350 oil-related companies encompassed every aspect of extraction, refining, and distribution operations in North Dakota. Many of these enterprises operate oil wells and refineries. Older facilities built before the 1980s used asbestos insulation in pipes, gaskets, power generators, and boilers to reduce the risk of fire and/or electrical damage.
However well-intentioned the use of asbestos was, it had detrimental effects on the workforce. Many oil industry workers, including maintenance personnel, were exposed to asbestos fibers for extended periods. This exposure often resulted in an uptick of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma cases among oil industry workers.
Power generation plants, including those powered by coal, also used asbestos as insulation and fire retardant materials to protect the facilities and workers from fires and electrical discharges. Older power plants used asbestos liberally, even using the flexible mineral fibers in workers’ protective clothing and workbenches. In contrast, power plants built since the 1980s use alternative fire retardant materials and insulation.
Asbestos was also used extensively by the U.S. military. There are currently three U.S. Air Force installations in North Dakota: Minot Air Force Base (AFB), Grand Forks AFB, and Cavalier Air Force Station (AFS).
These facilities were built during the Cold War; Minot AFB and Grand Forks AFB both began operations in 1957, while Cavalier AFS, a radar site, has been active since the 1960s. Cavalier was first a U.S. Army phased array radar (PAR) site; it became an Air Force facility in 1976 and has changed operational status several times since then.
Although abatement procedures have been carried out since the 1980s, many veterans stationed at these North Dakota bases during the Cold War were exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos exposure is known to have occurred at these facilities:
- Tesoro Mandan Refinery in Mandan
- R.M. Heskett Power Station in Mandan
- Northern States Power Company (now Xcel Energy) in Fargo
- Otter Tail Power Company Coyote Station in Beulah
- Great River Energy Stanton Station in Stanton
- Fargo Foundry Company/Mid-America Steel in Fargo
Asbestos is the principal cause of mesothelioma and asbestosis, but scientists have discovered another mineral which triggers malignant mesothelioma. Erionite is a naturally-occurring material formed when volcanic ash is changed by erosion and interaction with groundwater. It is a member of a mineral group called zeolite. Like asbestos, erionite is fibrous and can be dangerous when its fibers become airborne.
Erionite deposits are located in Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah. Before researchers discovered its asbestos-like carcinogenic properties, erionite was used to pave highways and other roads, especially in the Rocky Mountain states and the Dakotas. According to an article in Real Clear Science, “at least 300 miles of roads in North Dakota are paved with” erionite.
Every time a school bus or other heavy vehicle drives on these roadways, erionite fibers are released into the air. Once they’re loose in the environment, those fibers can be breathed in and settle into the pleural lining of the lung or the peritoneum. The carcinogenic fibers then form tumors that develop into malignant mesothelioma.
Dunn County, where most of the paving with erionite was done, may undergo an asbestos cancer epidemic similar to that in Boyali, Turkey. Researchers who carried out a detailed study of both localities note that “airborne erionite concentrations measured in North Dakota…equaled or exceeded concentrations in Boyali, where 6.25% of all deaths are caused by malignant mesothelioma.”
North Dakota Asbestos Laws
The state of North Dakota manages its asbestos abatement program through the Department of Health under its Division of Air Quality. North Dakota follows federal NEPSHA rules and various laws approved by the state to regulate the abatement of asbestos materials.
- The North Dakota Division of Air Quality manages the state’s air quality emission standards regarding asbestos-containing materials and sets standards for certifying asbestos-related work. This includes workers ranging anywhere from basic abatement removal specialists, up to emergency planning project managers.
- All demolition or renovation projects that involve more than three square feet of asbestos-related materials must give notification to the state. The state also requires the removal process to include proper ventilation to prevent material from being a hazard. The removal process requires the “wetting” process of removal, meaning dampening the material and then stored in a secure container, unless the material is one piece and can be secured safely.
- After the asbestos is stored in a secure way, it must be labeled as “Hazardous Material.” All possible health hazards must be listed as well. The disposal location must be listed on the asbestos disposing packaging as well, and any vehicles transporting asbestos must be clearly marked.
North Dakota Statute of Limitations on Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits
N.D. Cent. Code § 28-01-01 et seq., North Dakota’s statute of limitations on asbestos cases, requires that asbestos-related cases must be filed within two years from the time that the disease has been discovered, or within two years from the date that the illness should have been discovered within reason.
The two-year discovery rule also applies to wrongful death claims personal injury cases, which must be filed within two years of the victim’s date of death. However, asbestos-related wrongful death cases are allowed a three-year statute, starting the date of the victim’s death.
Getting Legal Help in North Dakota
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for damages for medical expenses, pain, suffering, lost wages and more. 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. For questions and assistance, feel free to contact us at 800-793-4540.