Shipyard workers between WWII and the Korean war were probably exposed to asbestos routinely. Ideal as insulation, asbestos was used for boilers, ship walls incinerators, water pipes and steam pipes. Asbestos fibers built up around these areas exposing many people to contamination. Exposure to asbestos affected shipbuilders, sailors and longshoremen, primarily.
Baltimore Marine Industries began dismantling old ships in 1997 at the Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard. Prior to 1997 the shipyard was used for building and repairing ships since 1916, work that involved the extensive use of asbestos. Baltimore Marine also repaired ships and built several more while dismantling the older ones.
Although one of the goals of the Baltimore Marine Industries contract was to develop safer ways to dismantle ships and dispose of hazardous wastes, over 700 employees were exposed to asbestos from 1996 to 2003 in addition to those who worked for the previous owner, Bethlehem Steel.
Former workers report that asbestos safety requirements were often overlooked as employees were urged to work fast to salvage all usable metal. Not only were the ships contaminated with asbestos, oil and other hazardous waste, but evidence of land and water contamination in the surrounding areas exists, as well.
These recent exposures may, one day, result in cases of asbestos-caused diseases. Since mesothelioma and other diseases can take up to fifty years before being diagnosed, be aware of any symptoms of lung, heart or abdominal disease and let your doctor know of your asbestos exposure.
If you would like more information about asbestos diseases please contact Brown | Kiely, LLP, the experienced asbestos lawyers serving Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C.