ANCHORED IN ASBESTOS
Record mesothelioma fatalities follow shipyard path along Maine’s coastline
Maine’s scenic New England coastline harbors a deadly health risk hidden within its Victorian clapboard buildings and century-old shipyards: malignant mesothelioma. At least 471 residents who lived and worked along Maine’s coastline died of asbestosis or mesothelioma between 1979 and 2001.
Most of the asbestos-related deaths were recorded along the coast, where shipyard workers and residents can suffer asbestos exposure. In that 12-year-period, the worst affected counties in Maine were Cumberland (102 deaths), Sagadahoc (83 deaths) and York (52 deaths).
June 5, 2009 - Maine has the nation’s highest death rate per capita from asbestos-caused mesothelioma, says the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). And according to another source, most of the state’s asbestos-related deaths are recorded along the state’s coastline, where the asbestos-plagued shipping industry is centered.
Maine’s top-notch position in per capita mesothelioma deaths is attributable to the state’s smaller population, its blue-collar worker-based economy, and the large number of older buildings that have been rehabbed for residential use, rather than being destroyed and replaced with modern materials, said NIOSH.
Maine shipyards moored in asbestos
The situation is exacerbated by hundreds of asbestos-ladened shipyards carved into Maine's rocky New England coastline. According to a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit environmental health organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., the majority of mesothelioma and asbestosis fatalities were recorded in counties and towns along the coast.
Occupational asbestos exposure among shipyard and boat repair workers is very common due to the historical practice of lathering ship interiors and boating machinery with fire-retardant asbestos materials to help prevent fires at sea, especially during the wartime years.
Bath Iron Works shipyard
The Bath Iron Works shipyard, located on the Kennebec River in Sagadahoc County, exposed workers to significant amounts of asbestos ever since the shipyard was built in 1826. The U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) recently awarded a federal asbestos cleanup grant to the city of Bath, Maine, as part of the massive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that the Obama Administration signed into existence in February.
What occupations are at risk?
Besides the shipbuilding industry, other industries reporting a high rate of mesothelioma include: the construction industry, chemical manufacturing, petroleum refining, and the utility industry. Trades or occupations most at risk include: pipe fitters, steamfitters, plumbers, mechanical engineers, electricians and elementary school teachers.
If you have been diagnosed with an occupational asbestos disease, like asbestosis or mesothelioma, and seek a free consultation about your right to financial compensation, please notify us through the communication form on this page. We will pursue your claim with vigilance. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no cost to you at all until we win a verdict or settlement.