Alaskan Oil and Asbestos: Abundance in Resources, Abundant in Risks
Nearly half the size of the continental U.S., the state of Alaska has been referred to as the final frontier in more ways than one. From its booming fishing industries to its extensive gold mining operations, the natural resources have become a large income generator for the northernmost state. Additional industries that have boomed in Alaska include the oil industry and the asbestos industry. The oil industry took off in the 1950s while the naturally occurring asbestos was prospected and mined as early as the beginning of the 1900s. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began to regulate the use of asbestos materials in the 1970s and 1980s, for hundreds of thousands of Americans it was too little too late.
Asbestos fibers are easily inhaled given their small size, and once inside the body there is no removal options. The fibers lodge into the tissues of the lungs and over time the build-up of scarring creates issues including shortness of breath and severe cancers including mesothelioma. While working in industries such as the oil and asbestos-mining industries, workers often were dislodging asbestos fibers while completing daily job duties.
For the asbestos mining industry, workers were constantly exposed to the dislodging of fibers as they collected the naturally occurring mineral. The fibers would often catch in their hair, their clothes, and more. Even if they were provided the proper protective equipment, which was not common until the late 1900s, many workers still brought the fibers home unknowingly. While removing their work clothes and showering, or while laundering their work clothes, the fibers would become airborne again, allowing not just the workers but also their family members to inhale the toxic materials. Some of the major asbestos mining sites in Alaska include:
- Fish Creek Quarry
- Bonnie Brae Quarry
- California Creek Mine
- Lemon Creek Quarry
- Treadwell Quarry
- Slate Creek Asbestos
Those in the oil industry also suffered from asbestos exposure as they worked on the offshore rigs, inland oil fields, and across the state assisting with pipeline construction and oil transportation. Machinery and equipment were put to the test in the harsh winters of Alaska and the Bering Sea, requiring consistent and diligent upkeep. As workers installed, maintained, and replaced pumps, pipes, valves, gaskets, and more, they were often dislodging asbestos fibers and breathing them in. Similarly to those working in the mining industry, they often were not provided proper protective equipment and brought fibers home in their hair and clothes as well.
Oftentimes, asbestos-related illnesses did not show up until decades after the exposure. This gap of time in exposure to illness led to many being diagnosed with other illnesses including lung cancer and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) as the asbestos exposure was a distant memory by the time of diagnosis. However, even if you or a loved one were diagnosed with one of these illnesses decades after your asbestos exposure, you may still be eligible for compensation. Given the known timeframe of decades passing before symptoms to arise, claims can still be filed long after the exposure period. For more information on how to qualify for asbestos claim compensation, please click here: https://vinsonlawoffice.com/contact/