The oil and gas industry used asbestos in its facilities and materials throughout the country for decades. Nowhere was this use as heavy as in Texas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), the state of Texas produces 26 percent 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 the state, it has also put workers and residents at risk of asbestos exposure. Many of these facilities were built with 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. Fill out 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
Companies in the Texas oil industry built many facilities with large amounts of asbestos materials. Because this mineral is inexpensive and resists heat and fire, it made an ideal choice for the industry. One of the main types of materials that contained asbestos was insulation, found all over these facilities.
When asbestos insulation ages it becomes brittle and flakes apart. It can also break apart when workers handle it. The fibers become airborne and can be inhaled ingested by anyone in the vicinity. Those working with the materials are at greatest risk, but anyone working around it can be affected.
Asbestos fibers inhaled or ingested build up over time inside the soft tissue of the lungs and chest cavity. This can lead to damage that causes asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related diseases in some people.
The large amount of asbestos-containing materials still found in aging oil production facilities is a major public health issue in Texas. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the death rate in Texas linked to malignant mesothelioma is an average of 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:
Facilities built after the 1980s used limited amounts of asbestos. But, there are many older oil rigs and refineries with asbestos remaining in the insulation, ceiling material, dry wall, pipes, conduits, gaskets, and other components. Employees and contractors in these older facilities may be exposed to asbestos fibers when carrying out routine maintenance tasks.
Texas now has strict rules in place that govern the use of asbestos, handling of asbestos materials, and the training with and use of safety equipment. But many workers in the oil industry were exposed decades ago and are just now getting sick.
Other Sources of Asbestos
In addition to the oil industry, many industrial manufacturers, energy producers, and shipbuilding companies in Texas used asbestos. Though some facilities were built after the government classified asbestos as a health risk and are asbestos-free, several older ones have been active since the 1930s and may still contain asbestos.
Ships built in Texas before the 1970s used asbestos in many components, but especially in the insulation and fireproofing materials. Shipyard engineers, pipe fitters, dockyard workers, maintenance workers, sailors, and others likely experienced asbestos exposure in these ships and are now at risk of being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Experts have identified many other industrial facilities and buildings, including automobile plants, aircraft factories, steel mills, military bases, government buildings, apartments, and schools built in Texas before the 1970s as job sites with a high potential for asbestos exposure. Some miltary bases in the state still contain asbestos too.
Another potential source of exposure in Texas is naturally occurring asbestos (NOA). NOAs in Texas are found near Government Canyon Natural Area, close to San Antonio and in the Panhandle region. Human activity, like road building, in areas where NAOs are found can cause people to be exposed to asbestos fibers. Natural disasters may also disturb asbestos and cause exposure.
Texas Asbestos Laws
The state of Texas regulates the handling and removal of asbestos through the Department of State Health Services:
- The Department requires that property owners give notice to the state before beginning asbestos removal through either written or verbal notification. A state-certified inspector must perform a site survey.
- Training and certification for any individual involved in the asbestos removal process must be conducted through a state-approved program. Asbestos workers pay annual state license fees and must have a $1 million asbestos abatement insurance policy.
- State-certified contractors are required to maintain a log 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 private residences with four or fewer units.
For further information, contact 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. Texas has passed recent laws to manage the high number of cases. These include strict requirements for plaintiffs, which have prevented some from filing or getting fair compensation.
An example of one of the changes is that each person filing a mesothelioma lawsuit must already have a physical or functional impairment at the time of filing.
Texas also honors the “Joinder of Claimants,” meaning a dissimilar 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 out or merged with a business and assumed its liabilities.
In 2013 Union Carbide lost an asbestos exposure case brought by Vernon and Patsy Walker. They filed the lawsuit when Mr. Walker was diagnosed with mesothelioma after working with asbestos materials made by the company. Vernon worked for decades as a painter using Union Carbide paints and chemicals that contained asbestos.
After jury deliberations, Mr. and Mrs. Walker were awarded $11 million in damages. Union Carbide has been at the center of numerous mesothelioma lawsuits after workers became seriously ill after working with and around the company’s products.
Statute of Limitations on Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits
Under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.001 et seq., plaintiffs filing an asbestos-related lawsuit must do so within two years of the discovery of the asbestos-related 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.