Consolidated Steel Shipbuilding in Orange, Texas, used many products that exposed workers to asbestos fibers, as was common in shipyards prior to the substance being regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A number of former employees have developed asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, frequently decades after working on the site, as the diseases take many years to develop and be diagnosed.
Consolidated Steel was formed in 1929 in a merger of Union Iron Works, Llewellyn Iron Works and Baker Iron Works. In addition to its main shipyard in Wilmington, Calif., the company operated a small fabrication yard in Orange, which expanded with a naval contract to build destroyers in 1940. The Destroyer History Foundation reports that 12 Fletcher-class destroyers and 27 Gearing-class destroyers were built at this facility. The yard employed 20,000 people at its peak.
Many of the 20,000 employees were women who were residents of Beaumont, Texas. More than 100 destroyer escorts were also built in addition to the destroyers between 1942 and 1945 at the facility. The workers were brought in on the railroad so the company could meet its Navy contract production quotas.
Like all the other wartime shipyards, the Orange Consolidated Steel Shipbuilding facility used products containing asbestos widely in the vessels it built. Pipes were covered with asbestos insulation, and it was also used in the walls and the floors. Blankets used on bulkheads to stop the spread of fire during attacks contained asbestos, and so did the packing inside boilers. As a result, shipyard workers faced asbestos exposure on a daily basis.
Asbestos insulation produced by manufacturer Johns-Manville was in use at the Orange Consolidated Steel shipyard in 1944. A large amount of asbestos dust existed at the site. Chest pains were attributed to heart disease, fluid in the lungs was diagnosed as pneumonia, and lung cancer was assigned to other causes.
With asbestos exposure, the fibers perforate the air sacs of the lungs, which either break down the air sac or causes scar tissue to form. Oxygen decreases and shortness of breath occurs. Asbestos fiber irritation has been linked to mesothelioma, a cancer often found in the lining of the lungs. Asbestos damage can take 20 to 50 years to manifest, according to The American Cancer Society.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious illness as a result of asbestos exposure at Consolidated Steel Shipbuilding in Orange, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Kraft & Associates, P.C., our lawyers have been helping injured victims recover the compensation they need and deserve since 1971.
Our firm is established and our attorneys and staff are friendly and easy to talk to. Contact us now to arrange for a free case consultation with no obligation. We can advise you about your legal options and the damages you may be entitled to claim.