Norfolk is the second-largest city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with a population of 237,764 residents. It is part of the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Area and is home to the U.S. Navy’s largest base, Naval Station Norfolk. The headquarters of the Atlantic Fleet is located there, and other naval complexes, such as Little Creek and Hampton Roads adjoin Naval Station Norfolk, making it the largest naval base in the world.
Norfolk is also the home of Maersk Line, the biggest operator of U.S.-flagged merchant ships. The Norfolk Southern Railway company has its headquarters in the city, as well. The vast array of military and civilian facilities dedicated to shipbuilding, maritime operations, and land transportation has made Norfolk one of Virginia’s most thriving cities, but heavy use of asbestos in the past by government and private enterprises has had negative consequences for many of the area’s veterans and civilians.
Right now, there is over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set aside for victims who developed an asbestos-related disease. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top mesothelioma lawyers in Norfolk, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more.
Norfolk and Asbestos
Founded in 1682 when Virginia was a British colony, Norfolk has a long tradition of being a thriving port city as well as an important naval base. It is located in the Virginia region known collectively as Hampton Roads and lies at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.
Since the 1800s, the Navy has had a presence in the area, especially in Hampton Roads and Naval Station Norfolk. Hampton Roads was the site of the world’s first battle between ironclad warships in 1862, while Naval Station Norfolk was set up in 1917 on the former site of the Jamestown 300th Anniversary exposition at Sewell’s Point.
For nearly a century, Naval Station Norfolk has been a key base that supports the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Its facilities support more than 70 major warships of all types, and it is also the North American headquarters for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Its close proximity to nearby Navy facilities in Hampton Roads and Little Creek makes Norfolk the world’s largest naval base. In addition, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard builds, repairs, and refits ships of all types for the Navy.
The city of Norfolk also has a civilian port with one of the largest ship terminals in the world. The Norfolk International Terminal is the nation’s largest intermodal center. The cruise ship dock in downtown Norfolk can handle oceangoing ships that can carry up to 3,000 passengers, making the city a popular East Coast destination.
Norfolk is also an important hub for land transportation, including connections to the rest of the country through a network of railroad and major highways. Norfolk Southern Railway has its headquarters in the city and operates 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Norfolk Southern provides freight train service to every major port city on the East Coast, as well as to 10 river ports and nine lake ports.
Even though asbestos is regulated by federal and state environmental agencies and has been supplanted by safer substitutes, this group of six fibrous minerals was used in great quantities for much of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were produced and sold because they had beneficial properties that made them a profitable commodity.
Naturally-occurring and found all over the world in abundant quantities, asbestos can resist fire, high temperatures, chemical reactions, and electrical currents. It can also absorb sound and add tensile strength to other materials, such as steel and cement.
Thus, asbestos-derived products such as insulation, roofing materials, floor panels, soundproofing materials were widely used on a global scale. not just because they were useful, but also because they were cheap and plentiful.
Many industries and government agencies purchased asbestos and ACMs between the mid-19th Century and the late 20th Century. The biggest customers of the asbestos industry were heavy industry, construction companies, power generation companies, metalworks, and the government. Each needed asbestos or ACMs for specific purposes, but the most common factor was to protect workers or facilities from the effect fire, heat, or electrical discharges.
Unfortunately, the first industrial asbestos producers were unaware of asbestos’ negative impact on human health. Few, if any, knew that ancient Romans had recorded many instances of otherwise healthy persons dying of illnesses caused by long term exposure to asbestos.
However, after doctors in Great Britain discovered in the 1890s that factory workers who were constantly exposed to the fibrous minerals were developing lung disorders and terminal cancers, the asbestos industry covered up these findings.
Asbestos use increased exponentially as Western civilization, especially in the U.S., became more industrialized, and the industry was reluctant to lose profits by admitting it was selling a dangerous product.
Since the peak period of U.S. asbestos use coincided with two World Wars, the Cold War and their aftermath, Norfolk was one of the communities hardest hit by the nation’s asbestos problem. The U.S. Navy depended heavily on asbestos and ACMs to protect ships. especially warships, from damage caused by fire and heat.
Shore installations, such as Naval Station Norfolk’s various headquarters buildings, power generation stations, drydocks, repair yards, and maintenance shops used many asbestos derived products as well.
Considering the staggering number of ships and personnel which were stationed in Norfolk between 1918 and the phasing out of asbestos use in the late 1970s, there’s a causal link between asbestos exposure and the 1,735 estimated asbestosis and mesothelioma deaths recorded in Virginia between 1979 and 2004, according to the Environmental Working Group.
Norfolk Area Naval Bases and Support Facilities Where Asbestos Exposure Occurred
- Norfolk Naval Shipyard
- Naval Air Station Norfolk (merged with Naval Base Norfolk in 1999)
- Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story
- Naval Air Station Oceana
- Newport News Shipyard & Drydock
Other Norfolk Job Sites Where Asbestos Exposure Took Place
Before the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) initial findings that long-term exposure to asbestos causes lung cancer, asbestosis, and malignant mesothelioma were published in the early 1970s, most of the major industries relied on cheap and widely-available ACMs as fire retardant, soundproofing, and insulation.
Factories, steel mills, electrical plants, auto repair shops, railroad terminals, and any industry which operated machinery which ran on steam or generated high temperatures used asbestos to protect both property and personnel. In addition, ships, planes, trains, and automobiles used asbestos-derived components, such as gaskets, valves, or brake pads, to minimize the wear and tear from heat and friction.
As a consequence, a wide variety of job sites contained large quantities of asbestos, either as part of their infrastructure, or in products they manufactured or used extensively. This exposed many individuals to asbestos fibers, sometimes for long periods of time.
- Colonna’s Shipyard
- Chesapeake Transit Company/Norfolk Southern Railroad
- C.E. Thurston & Sons
- Norfolk Portland Cement Corporation
- Lone Star Cement Corporation
- Lyon Shipyard
- Norfolk and Portsmouth Traction Company
National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Centers in Virginia
- Massey Cancer Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, 401 College Street, Richmond, VA 23298, (804) 828-0450
- UVA Cancer Center, University of Virginia, 6171 West Complex, Charlottesville, VA 22908, (434) 924-5022
Getting Legal Help
Remember, if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for significant 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. If you need additional assistance, contact us toll-free at 800-793-4540.