Oregon has long depended upon the shipbuilding industry and other sea-faring activities as it is located in the Pacific Northwest. Countless Oregon residents have built a life within the shipbuilding industry and have, thus, been subjected to toxic levels of asbestos.

Asbestos was once widely used in the shipbuilding industry due to its strength, durability and resistance to friction and heat. It was considered an ideal material by members of the shipbuilding industry up until its harmful effects were discovered in the late 1970s.

Before then, the Oregon shipbuilding industry used asbestos in products such as:

  • Insulation materials
  • Pipe coverings
  • Asbestos cements
  • Firebrick
  • Fireproofing sprays
  • Boiler rooms
  • Gaskets
  • Electrical fittings
  • Ceiling & flooring panels

Studies have proven that 86 percent of workers with 20 or more years of experience in the shipbuilding industry will develop an asbestos cancer disease. Asbestos caused diseases can take up to 50 years to develop.

Research shows that one in 500 workers in shipyards worked with asbestos insulation. These workers often worked closely with asbestos-containing materials:

  • Shipfitters
  • Machinists
  • Pipefitters
  • Electricians
  • Boilermakers
  • Painters

Large numbers of American workers during WWII – up to 4.5 million, worked in various shipyard occupations and may have been exposed to toxic levels of asbestos. After the war, the number of shipyard workers declined to a few hundred thousand. However, the US Navy regularly used asbestos on ships long before the war. Even as far back as 1922, the Navy had a requirement that asbestos had to be used to build submarines.

Specifically in Oregon, there were major shipyards, such as the Albina Engine and Machine Works Shipyard. The Albina works played a major role in the shipbuilding business in the 1940s and also afterwards. The company was a major booster of Portland’s economy for decades but it turned out to have grim consequences for workers and their families. This shipyard, as well as Swan Island Shipyard and Astoria Voyage Repair Station, were well known to contain asbestos.

James McCallister Lawsuit

One of the most well-known asbestos lawsuit cases in Oregon is that of James McCallister at the Albina Engine and Machine Works. The workers started his career in 1956 as a ship carpenter and worked in that yard for decades. He passed away from mesothelioma in 2002, and his doctors clearly established his asbestos exposure over many years as the cause.

The legal issue in play was if Albina Engine had a responsibility to protect McCallister from injury as it was the last employer he worked for that exposed him to asbestos.

The first hearing went over his first three companies and it was found that Lockheed was responsible in large part for the worker’s asbestos exposure. However, the US Department of Labor disagreed and wanted a new hearing. After two more hearings, it was found that Albina Engine and Machine Works indeed was responsible for McCallister’s death.

The judge in the next hearing found that Albina Engine was liable for benefits related to the man’s death. The argument of Albina Engine was that a law was misstated in another hearing, but this was rejected. There was adequate evidence during this hearing that Albina Engine was the last company to expose him to asbestos.

The majority of asbestos lawsuits in Oregon have something to do with shipbuilding, but there are many other sources of the deadly substance in the state.

Other Industries that Expose Oregon Residents to Asbestos

The shipbuilding industry is not the only industry in Oregon to expose its workers and residents to asbestos. Oregon is also home to several chemical plants, which were also known to use large amounts of asbestos.

Oregon chemical plants are full of brown or blue asbestos, which is the most fatal form of asbestos. Chemical plant operators chose to use these types of asbestos, because they are the most resistant to corrosion.

Workers and Family Members Exposed to Asbestos

If you or someone you love has worked in the shipbuilding industry, chemical plants, oil refineries, or other asbestos-rich environments in Oregon, you were most likely exposed to high levels of asbestos. The family members of those who worked with the asbestos fibers are at risk also, as the fibers were known to sneak home with workers on their clothes and shoes.

Getting Legal Help from Asbestos Attorneys

If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer or another asbestos cancer disease, contact mesothelioma centers today to speak with an experienced Oregon asbestos attorney who will help you recover damages.