Oklahoma, as with every other state in the nation, once relied heavily on asbestos, mainly at industrial job sites. Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos use was abundant, yet although it helped with heat and fire resistance in numerous products, it also resulted in thousands of people developing life-threatening illnesses. Most asbestos victims in Oklahoma worked at job sites that used asbestos-containing products and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). A knowledgeable Oklahoma mesothelioma lawyer can help these people get the compensation they deserve.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for substantial compensation. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more.
We offer assistance in all cities and towns in Oklahoma, including:
Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, Broken Arrow, Lawton, Edmond, Moore, Midwest City, Enid, Stillwater, Muskogee, Bartlesville, Owasso, Shawnee, Ardmore, Ponca City, Yukon, Duncan, Bixby, Del City, Sapulpa, Altus, Bethany, Sand Springs, Mustang, Claremore, Jenks, McAlester, El Reno, Ada, Durant, Chickasha, Tahlequah, Miami, Woodward, Elk City, Okmulgee, Guymon, Weatherford, Choctaw, Glenpool, Guthrie, Warr Acres, Coweta, Clinton, Pryor Creek, The Village, Newcastle, Sallisaw, Wagoner, Poteau, Cushing, Blanchard, Skiatook, Seminole, Catoosa, Idabel, Blackwell, Anadarko, Grove, Noble, Tecumseh, Piedmont, Tuttle, Purcell, Collinsville, Pauls Valley, Henryetta, Holdenville, Vinita, Harrah, Hugo, Lone Grove, Perry, Alva, Sulphur, Kingfisher, Marlow, Sayre, McLoud, Bristow, Slaughterville, Verdigris, Broken Bow, Fort Gibson, Spencer, Pocola, Stilwell, Madill, Nichols Hills, Frederick, Nowata, Hobart, Pawhuska, Hominy, Dewey, Park Hill, Wewoka, Heavener, Checotah, and more.
Oklahoma Asbestos History and Statistics
Oklahoma was once primarily an agricultural state. However, as a result of inadequate farming practices which made cropland vulnerable to extended drought and wind erosion, the agricultural sector suffered during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.
Though farming is still a major part of the state’s economy, Oklahoma became more industrialized in the 1940s and throughout the postwar decades. The state is also a major producer of oil and natural gas. As a result of this industrialization trend, Oklahoma shares the same asbestos-related issues as the rest of the nation.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Oklahoma is ranked 33rd in the U.S. for asbestos-related deaths. Between 1979 and 2004, there were an estimated 499 deaths from both asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer.
These numbers are inexact and the total number of deaths caused by exposure to asbestos may be higher. The majority of these deaths stem directly from negligent manufacturers and businesses that supplied asbestos to job site, leaving a multitude of workers at risk for for life-threatening diseases.
Asbestos, Mesothelioma, and Oklahoma
Although the combined effects of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression hurt Oklahoma’s economy severely, the state steadily recovered during the 1940s as a result of rising cattle and produce prices, as well as the increased demand for oil and industrial products. The entry of the United States into World War II in 1941 was the catalyst for Oklahoma’s economic boom. The U.S. government set up several military bases within the state’s borders, and many war production plants were built as well.
Unfortunately, the growth of both the energy production and industrial sectors of Oklahoma’s economy coincided with the peak period of asbestos mining and distribution in the U.S. Asbestos is a catchall term for a group of naturally-occurring fibrous minerals which resist heat, fire, and chemical reactions.
Asbestos minerals are also good conductors of electricity and possess flexibility. These properties made asbestos a sought-after product since it could be used as insulation, fire-retardant, and a strength-enhancing additive to metals and other materials. The oil industry, heavy manufacturing and construction sectors, and the U.S. military were the main users of asbestos in Oklahoma and elsewhere.
Asbestos, however, is a carcinogenic material which is deadly to humans if they are exposed to it constantly. Its fibrous particles are small and easy to inhale or even swallow because they are easily dispersed into the air. Normal rates of exposure to asbestos fibers pose few health hazards.
Nevertheless, long-term exposure in an environment where large amounts of asbestos dust is present is very dangerous. If too many fibers enter the tissue of the lung, the cardial sac, or the abdominal cavity, they cause tumors that slowly turn into malignant mesothelioma, a terminal disease.
This process takes up to 50 years from beginning to end. Since mesothelioma is dormant for such long periods and its symptoms mimic those of other diseases, it is hard to detect or treat.
Oklahoma Job Sites with Known Asbestos Exposure
According to StateImpact, a reporting project of National Public Radio member stations, the oil and gas industry accounts for “roughly one quarter of all jobs in Oklahoma, directly or indirectly.” Halliburton Corporation was founded in Duncan, and several other oil firms, including ONEOK, Williams Companies, Oklahoma Gas & Electric, ConocoPhillips, and Continental Resources are either based in the state or have a strong presence there.
Because fire and explosions are a major concern in the oil and gas industries, asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used extensively in oil-drilling rigs, refineries, and other facilities. Older oil plants built before the late 1970s were built with asbestos in nearly every component.
Pipes, gaskets, valves, work benches, and even fire-fighting workers’ gear contained asbestos. Although asbestos abatement programs have reduced the amount of asbestos in many of these older facilities since the 1980s, many workers were exposed in the preceding decades.
Asbestos was also used in large quantities by the U.S. armed forces for the same reasons as the oil industry. Asbestos was used in brake pads, wiring in radar sets and radios, insulation material, roof shingles, and vinyl floor sheets.
Military bases established before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) linked asbestos to asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer in the 1970s were contaminated by asbestos. Many veterans who served during World War II and throughout much of the Cold War were exposed to asbestos and later were diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Asbestos exposure is known to have occurred at the following job sites:
- Altus Air Force Base in Altus
- Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City
- Vance Air Force Base in Enid
- Fort Sill U.S. Army Base in Lawton
- Phillips Petroleum Refinery in Okmulgee
- Cushing Oil Terminal in Cushing
- Ben Franklin Refining Company in Tulsa
- Norman Naval Air Station (closed) in Norman
- Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company Plant in Drumright
- Duncan Oil Company Refinery in Duncan
Asbestos Laws in Oklahoma
Asbestos rules and regulations in Oklahoma is implemented by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Along with state-specific laws, Oklahoma also follows the federal NESHAP guidelines.
- For asbestos control, the state of Oklahoma follows OAC 252:100, 41-15 of the NESHAP regulations as well as 40 CFR Part 61.140-157 of the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.
- For any demolitions in Oklahoma, regardless of whether asbestos is present at the demolition location, written notification must sent to the state. Demolitions areas with areas less than 160 square feet, 35 cubic feet, or 260 linear feet are exempt.
- All demolitions, renovations, and asbestos abatement projects must follow the aforementioned NESHAP regulations.
- NESHAP laws must be adhered to at all times in the state of Oklahoma. Failure to comply with the regulations could possibly result in civil penalties and fines of up to $10,000, per the Oklahoma Clean Air Act, Oklahoma Statute, Title 27A, Section 2-5-101 to 118.
- Renovations do not require prior written notification and approval as long as no asbestos is in the facility being renovated.
To get more detailed information regarding asbestos-related regulations and rules in Oklahoma, contact the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality at 405-702-4100.
Getting Medical Help in Oklahoma
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) helps cancer victims find the best treatment centers by recognizing the best cancer centers. Known as NCI-designated facilities, these care centers are comprised of elite doctors, scientists, and professionals who go above and beyond to research cancer and help treat those affected with the disease.
The INTEGRIS Cancer Institute is a NCI-designated care center with researchers, physicians, cancer experts, and healthcare specialists that focus on mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. It has six campuses in Oklahoma, including the Proton Campus in Oklahoma City.
Keep in mind that mesothelioma is still not a well-known disease and therefore it’s important to seek out a care center that has physicians that specialize in asbestos-related diseases.
Oklahoma Statute of Limitations on Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits
Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 91 et seq. provides the statute of limitations when filing an asbestos-related lawsuit in Oklahoma. If you plan to file, make sure you do so within two years from the date of the discovery of the illness. If you plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Oklahoma, it must be done within two years from the actual date of the victim’s death. Both wrongful death and asbestos-related injury cases fall under the discovery rule.
Legal Assistance in Oklahoma
Remember, if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for significant compensation. Remember to fill out our from to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers in your area.