For decades the oil and gas industry in the U.S. used asbestos in its facilities. Nowhere was this use as heavy as in Texas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), Texas produces more than a quarter of all the crude oil in the nation. Various oil companies operate 26 active refineries that process crude oil.
While the industry has been an important part of the economy of Texas for decades, it has also put workers and residents at risk of harmful asbestos exposure. Many of these facilities were built with construction materials laced with asbestos fibers. An experienced Texas mesothelioma lawyer can help asbestos victims get the compensation to which they are entitled.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Complete our form to get a free Financial Compensation Packet. You’ll learn about the top mesothelioma lawyers in Texas, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file a claim for the asbestos trust funds, and more.
We help asbestos victims all over Texas, including, but not limited to:
Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Ft. Worth, El Paso, Arlington, Corpus Christi, Plano, Laredo, Lubbock, Garland, Irving, Amarillo, Grand Prairie, Brownsville, Pasadena, McKinney, Mesquite, Killeen, Frisco, McAllen, Waco, Carrollton, Midland, Denton, Abilene, Beaumont, Odessa, Round Rock, Wichita Falls, Richardson, Lewisville, Tyler, Pearland, College Station, San Angelo, Allen, League City, Sugarland, Longview, Mission, Edinburg, Bryan, Baytown, Pharr, Temple, Missouri City, Flower Mound, North Richland Hills, Harlingen, Victoria, New Braunfels, Conroe, Cedar Park, Mansfield, Rowlett, Georgetown, Port Arthur, San Marcos, Pflugerville, Euless, De Soto, Grapevine, Galveston, Bedford, Cedar Hill, Texas City, Wylie, Haltom City, Keller, Rockwall, Burleson, Coppell, Huntsville, Duncanville, The Colony, Sherman, Hurst, Lancaster, Friendswood, Texarkana, Weslaco, Lufkin, Schertz, San Juan, Del Rio, La Porte, Nacogdoches, Deer Park, Rosenberg, Copperas Cove, Little Elm, Soccoro, Kyle, Leander, Farmers Branch, Waxahachie, Cleburn, and South Lake.
Texas Oil and Asbestos
Many of the oil industry companies in Texas built processing and refining facilities with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Asbestos made sense for the industry because it resists fire and heat so well. Insulation, in many industries, was a common ACM.
When asbestos insulation ages it becomes brittle and breaks apart. It can also break up when people do maintenance or renovation work. The fibers become airborne and can be inhaled ingested by anyone in the vicinity. Those working with the materials are at the greatest risk, but anyone working around it can be affected.
Asbestos fibers inhaled or ingested by workers build up over time inside the soft tissue in and around the lungs, or even in the abdominal cavity. This can lead to damage and may cause asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other diseases.
The large amount of ACMs still found in aging oil production facilities is a major public health concern in the state. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the death rate in Texas linked to malignant mesothelioma averages 17.5 per million inhabitants, much higher than in many other regions and states.
The principal operators of refineries and oil wells in Texas are:
Oil facilities constructed from the early 1980s on used either no asbestos or much less than in the past. However, there are still many older refineries and other buildings with asbestos lurking in the insulation and other materials. Ceilings, dry wall, gaskets, pipes, and other materials may have asbestos. Workers in these facilities are at risk for exposure, especially when doing work that disturbs the ACMs.
Texas now has strict laws governing new uses of asbestos and ACMs. The laws also restrict and dictate the handling of older ACMs and how workers are trained and supplied with safety equipment. Unfortunately, now it is the older workers from the oil industry getting sick from exposure years ago.
Other Sources of Asbestos
In addition to oil production and refining, many industrial manufacturers, energy producers, and shipbuilding companies in Texas used asbestos at one time. Though some facilities were built after the government classified asbestos as a health risk, several older ones have been active since the 1930s. These often still contain asbestos.
Ships built in Texas before the 1970s used asbestos in almost all components but especially in the insulation and fireproofing. Shipyard engineers, pipe fitters, dockyard workers, maintenance workers, sailors, and others likely experienced asbestos exposure in these ships and are now at risk of mesothelioma.
Several other types of facilities and industries in the state have been found to have exposed workers to asbestos. these include aircraft factories, military bases, steel mills, automotive manufacturing plants, and even apartments, schools, government buildings and military facilities.
Another potential source of exposure in Texas is naturally occurring asbestos (NOA). NOAs in Texas are located near Government Canyon Natural Area and in the Panhandle region. Human activity, like road building, in areas where NOAs are found can cause people to be exposed to asbestos fibers. Natural disasters may also disturb asbestos.
Texas Asbestos Laws
The state of Texas regulates the handling and removal of asbestos through the Department of State Health Services:
- Property owners must give notice to the state before beginning any asbestos removal project. A state-certified inspector must perform a site survey.
- Training and certification for anyone involved in the asbestos removal process must go through a state-approved program. Asbestos workers pay annual state license fees and hold a $1 million asbestos abatement insurance policy.
- State-certified contractors maintain a logs on asbestos work on all public property. Records are kept for at least 30 years to ensure compliance with state, EPA, and OSHA regulations.
- Texas allows exemptions for state certifications for the removal of asbestos-containing materials on small private residences.
For further information, call the Texas Asbestos Program’s Division for Regulatory Services at 512-834-6770.
Mesothelioma Lawsuits in Texas
More mesothelioma lawsuits have been filed in Texas than in any other state. The state legislature passed laws recently to manage the high number of cases. These include strict requirements for plaintiffs to file. These new laws have prevented some victims from filing or getting fair compensation.
For example, anyone filing a mesothelioma lawsuit must already have a physical or functional impairment at the time of filing. Just being exposed to asbestos is not reason enough to file.
Texas honors the “Joinder of Claimants.” This means an unrelated case can be joined with a mesothelioma case to save time. The state may also limit the liability of the company being sued if the company bought or merged with a business and assumed its liabilities.
In 2013 Union Carbide lost an asbestos exposure case brought by Vernon and Patsy Walker. Mr. Walker was diagnosed with mesothelioma after working with the company’s asbestos materials. Vernon worked for decades as a painter using Union Carbide asbestos-containing paints.
A jury awarded Mr. and Mrs. Walker $11 million in damages. Union Carbide has been at the center of numerous other mesothelioma lawsuits after workers became seriously ill from the company’s products.
Statute of Limitations on Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits
Under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.001 et seq., plaintiffs in an asbestos-related lawsuit must file within two years of the diagnosis of the illness. Or it must be filed within two years of the time it should have been reasonably discovered. Asbestos-related wrongful death lawsuits can only be filed within two years of the date of the victim’s death.
Getting Legal Help in Texas
If you or a loved one suffer from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, remember that you may qualify for financial compensation. 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 additional assistance, contact us at 800-793-4540.