Workers and Others Who Spent Time at the Avondale Shipyard May Have Been Exposed to Harmful Asbestos
Many maritime companies have operated out of Louisiana, given its location along the Intracoastal Waterway. Asbestos was once commonly used in the shipbuilding industry, eventually giving rise to many asbestos cases in the state of Louisiana.
The history of Avondale Shipyard
In 1938, Avondale Shipyard began operating as a barge construction and repair company. The shipyard took on government contracts during World War II and continued to do so until it closed down in 2014.
Avondale Shipyard ownership exchanged many hands over the years, beginning with James G. Viavant, and including prominent owners such as Litton Industries, Northrop Grumman, Huntington Ingalls Industries, and finally, Avondale Marine LLC.
World War II and the Avondale Shipyard
Its years of operation spanned World War II (WWII) and the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. The number of employees who worked at the shipyard during WWII alone was 26,000.
The types of ships built and serviced at Avondale included destroyers, barges, amphibious ships, oil rigs, tug boats, cargo ships, drilling barges, container vessels, dredges, tankers, frigates, and more. Some of the most noteworthy ships built or worked on at Avondale include USS Patterson, USS Trippe, USS Joseph Hewes, USS Cook, USS Kirk, USS Ainsworth, and USS Valdez, among others.
Decades of asbestos use at Avondale Shipyard
For most of its decades of operation, asbestos was prevalently used at Avondale Shipyard. Both military service members and civilians worked aboard ships and in the shipyards, working amongst the tons of asbestos that was used in shipbuilding between the 1930s and 1980s.
Why Were So Many Sailing Vessels Built With Asbestos?
The properties of asbestos are ideal for shipbuilding; it is robust, and highly resistant to fire and heat, making it the perfect choice for decreasing fire risks with heavy ship equipment.
Some of the primary ways asbestos was used in maritime work included insulation to walls, incinerators, boilers, and pipes. For example, a cloth-like material called asbestos lagging was often used to insulate a ship’s steam pipes, and often contained as much as 90% asbestos. In addition, shipyard employees would sometimes even manufacture their own lagging onsite, putting them at even higher risk of asbestos exposure.
Such heavy asbestos use and poor ventilation within the ships led to significant asbestos exposure to many thousands of workers.
Lawsuits for Asbestos Exposure at Avondale Shipyard
Decades of working with asbestos caused many workers to develop an asbestos-related illness. Whether working directly with the mineral or spending time in poorly ventilated areas where asbestos materials were being disrupted, Avondale workers were exposed to airborne asbestos fibers. Whether inadvertently ingested or inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause a range of lung diseases and mesothelioma – an aggressive form of cancer.
Compensation for Asbestos-Related Health Problems from Working at Avondale Shipyard
Multiple lawsuits have been brought against Avondale Shipyards, including one man who was awarded $4.9 million after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Some claims also relate to family members who were exposed to asbestos by living with workers of the shipyard. Asbestos dust can remain on clothing and be brought home where individuals not otherwise exposed to it can breathe it in and subsequently fall ill.
If you may have been exposed to asbestos, speak with your healthcare provider about tests and screening to help detect the presence of asbestos fibers and asbestos-related damage.
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