The Charleston Naval Shipyard opened in 1901 and built ships for several US wars before it was closed in 1996. The Charleston Naval Shipyard was used primarily as a decommissioning and storage facility, as well as for overhauls of ships and submarines.
The Charleston Naval Shipyard grew during WWI, but it did not experience its most vigorous expansion until the beginning of WWII. By 1943, with WWII in full effect, there were almost 26,000 shipyard workers employed there.
This was at a time when it was a naval requirement for all ships to be outfitted with asbestos-containing materials. So, this shipyard became a major source for asbestos exposure to workers and military members onboard the ships. Asbestos was often used for fireproofing and insulation, which are highly valued properties on ships. But even minimal exposure to asbestos can cause many health problems, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. (asbestos.com)
Residents Complained in the Late 1990s About High Rates of Pleural Cancers
It was not only shipyard workers at the Charleston Naval Shipyard who were exposed to a high level of asbestos. By the 1990s, residents near the shipyard noticed they had a higher than the normal number of pleural cancers in the region, including mesothelioma. After a study by the Department of Health and Environmental Control, they determined that mesothelioma and related cancers were four times higher than expected. They also found that ⅔ of the pleural cancers, including pleural mesothelioma, were due to former shipyard workers who were exposed to asbestos.
In 2017 a clinical study was published in the Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health that studied the risk of mesothelioma among all shipyard workers in t4he US. Those exposed to a ‘moderate’ amount of asbestos were four times more likely to die from asbestos cancer. (NIH.gov)
Asbestos Exposure At Charleston Naval Shipyard
What is particularly tragic about the use of asbestos at shipyards such as Charleston Naval Shipyard is that the US Navy knew asbestos was dangerous for decades. Still, hazardous asbestos-containing materials were a major part of shipbuilding until the 1970s. It was not until 1978 when the US Navy finally released the Controlled procedure for the Removal of Asbestos Containing Materials document at shipyards around the country.
The report detailed the steps necessary for removing asbestos from ships. But for thousands of Charleston Naval Shipyard workers and nearby residents, it was too late. They had been exposed to high levels of asbestos for years and were at risk of serious health problems.
Since the yard was shut down in 1996, residents of communities in the area have said they are concerned about redevelopment on the site because it could possibly disturb asbestos beneath the ground. Approximately 340 acres of the old shipyard site is being developed for commercial and residential projects for North Charleston. Construction broke ground in 2005 and it is called The Navy Yard at Noisette.
An air monitoring study was done by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to determine if there were higher than normal levels of asbestos in the air. This was done to ensure safety for several neighborhoods in the area, including:
- Silver Hill
- Four Mile
- Five Mile
- Union Heights
- Howard Heights
At this point, there appears to be no significant danger of asbestos exposure at the old site of the Charleson Naval Shipyard, but air quality studies are continuing.
If you or a loved one worked at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, you or they may have been exposed to asbestos that led to mesothelioma, asbestosis, or another asbestos-related health problem. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and worked at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, please consult with a licensed mesothelioma attorney today.
Your attorney can go over your employment history and medical files and determine if you have a strong case. In many lawsuits, the companies that provided the asbestos-containing materials to the shipyard can be found. If so, you may be able to obtain compensation for your lost earnings, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
If you reside in the area of the former Charleston Naval Shipyard and have mesothelioma, you also could be entitled to compensation, so speak to a mesothelioma attorney today.