Once used in countless applications before its true risks became widely known, the mineral asbestos is still turning up in surprising places. Case in point: the recent removal of asbestos firewalls in some old docks on the waterfront of the city of Seward, Alaska.
This should serve as a cautionary tale for other communities with similar old docks so they can also safely remove any asbestos that may be crumbling into their harbors as well before it can cause any problems, said a local conservation advocate.
As the Seward Phoenix Log Web site reports, asbestos sheets were embedded in cement boards under dock gratings after a 1964 earthquake. State officials, who built the docks, intended these sheets to prevent fire from spreading along the waterfront.
But decades later, the asbestos sheets had fallen into disrepair and were “visibly deteriorating.” When asbestos-containing materials break apart, microscopic asbestos fibers are released into the air. When inhaled, asbestos fibers embedded in the lungs can cause mesothelioma cancer and other potentially fatal diseases.
A private contractor first noticed the asbestos sheets about four years ago and reported his discovery to the city. However, only recently did testing confirm the presence of asbestos, and then the city took action. Workers in full hazmat protection removed the materials.
In addition to its use in docks, asbestos was regularly deployed for many maritime applications during the 20th century, especially by the U.S. Navy. Nearly every Navy ship built between World War II and the late 1970s contained asbestos. Sadly, our naval veterans are one of the groups most affected by the ravages of mesothelioma.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related condition and believe you were exposed to asbestos at a job site, you may be entitled to financial compensation. To learn more about your legal options, please contact Sokolove Law for a free case evaluation. You can also learn more about our Veteran Outreach Program by clicking here.