Along with other industrial companies, Alcoa’s facility in Point Comfort/Port Lavaca used asbestos before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to impose restrictions on its use. Exposure to asbestos has been shown to cause mesothelioma, cancer in the lining of the lungs, along with other respiratory diseases.
Alcoa was incorporated on Oct. 1, 1888, as the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, according to company information. It was based on a technology developed by co-founder Charles Martin Hall – an affordable way to make aluminum products through electrolysis.
In 1901, the company began fabricating lightweight aluminum automobile bodies and parts, and in 1903, it entered the aerospace industry. Alcoa introduced aluminum foil to America in 1910. It pioneered aluminum furniture in 1922, aluminum windows in 1928, and aluminum wheels for Mack trucks in 1948. Alcoa also introduced the first aluminum “pop-top” cans in 1962. The company claims to be a global leader in engineering and manufacturing of lightweight metals and multi-material solutions.
Alcoa’s first production site was established in Pittsburgh in 1888. Subsequent sites were established in New Kensington, Pa., in 1891; Niagara Falls in 1895; Shawinigan Falls, Quebec, in 1900; Bauxite, Ark. in 1901; and East St. Louis, Ill., in 1902. The company name was changed to the “Aluminum Company of America” in 1907, and the acronym “Alcoa” was coined in 1910.
Numerous sites and subsidiaries have been established by Alcoa domestically and internationally since that time. The company made its debut in the shipbuilding industry in 1937, when the Ranger, the first boat of its size with Alcoa aluminum mast, boom and spinnaker pole, won the America’s cup.
The company’s Point Comfort/Port Lavaca Alcoa operations are located 125 miles southwest of Houston. According to the company, this site supplies alumina – the compound from which aluminum is made – to the global corporate operations. The plant, which covers approximately 3,500 acres, was first established as an aluminum smelter in 1948, according to the EPA. The smelting operations ceased in 1980.
Before protective measures were instituted in the 1980s, metal workers suffered a great deal of asbestos exposure, as was common in many industries during this period. Metalworking often involves temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Asbestos was used as insulation in fireproof workstations and on pipes, ovens, tanks, boilers and other equipment. Asbestos was also used in some of the metalworkers’ protective clothing, such as aprons, masks, mitts, coats and pants.
In the metalworking industry, workers faced increased exposure risks because asbestos was a component in thousands of products used throughout these sites. Family members of metalworkers from that period were also at risk for asbestos exposure because fibers on the workers’ bodies or clothing could be inhaled by anyone around them.
Asbestos inhalation has since been found to be extremely harmful to human health. It can cause many respiratory diseases, including mesothelioma. Symptoms may not appear for decades after exposure, which is generally far past the time the patient could receive medical treatment that could stave off the advancement of the disease.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious health consequences from asbestos exposure while working for Alcoa in Port Comfort/Port Lavaca, you may have a claim for substantial compensation. The law offices of Kraft & Associates, P.C., can advise you of your legal options. We offer a free case consultation with no obligation.
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