Located on the Williamette River near Portland, Oregon, Albina Engine & Machine Works built freights during WWI and WWII. It eventually was converted into a major vessel repair facility. It was one of Portland’s first large shipyards. But its heavy use of dangerous asbestos as had long-lasting effects on many former employees.
History of the Albina Shipyard History
The Albina Engine & Machine Works was first established in 1904 and became popular over the years for building and fixing vessels. Albina Shipyard employees produced many warships, sub chasers, barges, tugboats, landing crafts, tankers, and freighters.
After WWII, the Albina Shipyard started to focus on building and repairing commercial vessels. Workers build barges ferries, yachts, and tugboats. The transformation to commercial vessels was successful for Albina Shipyard and continued until the early 1970s when it was renamed Dillingham Ship Repair.
The Albina Shipyard and Asbestos Exposure
Albina Shipyard played a large role in the improvement of Portland’s economy, and offering workers with good-paying jobs. But it came at a heavy health cost to many employees.
The shipyard, as with most shipyards before the 1980s, was a heavy user of asbestos in machinery, products, equipment and much more. It became well-known years later for occupational asbestos exposure, and over the years, workers started to become ill to mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other deadly diseases related to asbestos exposure. (Mesothelioma.net).
Asbestos was used in the production of all the yard’s vessels as far as the 1970s. This was well after it was known that asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma. Asbestos was used all over the shipyard: in engine rooms, sleeping quarters, pipe insulation, boiler rooms and more. At least 300 asbestos-containing materials were found in Navy vessels at this and other shipyards.
Many shipyard employees began to develop serious and fatal health problems from their asbestos exposure. Albina Shipyard workers are at higher risk for serious health problems from asbestos exposure. When materials containing asbestos materials are moved, dangerous dust can be released. If the dust is ingested or inhaled, it may lodge in the body and cause cancer and inflammation.
Workers who once worked at Albina Shipyard developed these diseases at alarming rates. In turn, asbestos lawsuits began to pour in, including a lawsuit from the family of a former shipbuilder who died of asbestos exposure.
Albina Shipyard Asbestos Lawsuits
One of the best-known asbestos lawsuits happened when former shipyard worker James Mccalister died from mesothelioma in 2002. Court documents stated that the man was employed as a shipyard carpenter and began his career at Albina Shipyard in 1956.
He worked at three different ports in Portland in his shipbuilding career. Albina was the final one. It was a controversy whether it was the Albina Shipyard or another that caused the man’s mesothelioma.
After several hearings, the court stated that because Albina was the last employer for Mccalister, the company was financially responsible for his cancer.
Studies Related to Shipyard Workers and Asbestos Exposure
Researchers have done several studies showing the link between asbestos insulation and mesothelioma that regularly occurred at the Albina Shipyard and other shipyards across the country. For instance, ‘The Occurrence of Asbestosis Among Insulation Workers in the US’ showed the dangerous history of asbestos in insulation, which was often used in vessels.
Several other studies showed similar conclusions and found that asbestos exposure to shipyard and insulation workers was related to much higher risks of lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. A study released in Environmental Health Perspectives found that people who worked in asbestos insulation in the US Navy had a much higher death rate from lung cancer. They also had a higher rate of asbestosis and mesothelioma. (Rmqlawfirm.com)
Albina Shipyard Closes
In the late 1980s, Albina Shipyard shut down after it was purchased by Cascade General. The new firm kept the company name of Albina for years. In 2009, however, Cascade General changed the name after mesothelioma lawsuits began to flood in that were associated with the Albina Shipyard name.
OSHA found the site was heavily contaminated with asbestos, fuel oil, diesel fuel, petroleum and other carcinogens.
The Albina Shipyard needlessly exposed thousands of workers and their families to asbestos and many other hazardous materials. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and worked there, it is recommended to talk to a mesothelioma attorney. You may be able to obtain compensation from one of the companies that provided asbestos or asbestos-containing materials to the Albina Shipyard. Even if the shipyard is no longer in operation, there are more than $30 billion in asbestos trust funds available, and you may be eligible for compensation from these funds.