Pittsburgh Corning (Pittsburgh)

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Pittsburgh Corning, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, began as a manufacturer of glass. It started with glass blocks, but later, the company began manufacturing a type of cellular glass insulation used in construction called FOAMGLAS.  In 1962, Pittsburgh Corning began an expansion project by opening a plant in Tyler, Texas. This particular plant was used to manufacture a new insulation product called Unibestos that could be used in environments with extremely high temperatures. Unibestos was an instant success due to its ability to resist heat and an additional facility was put into operation in Allegheny, Pennsylvania.

As can be guessed from the name, Unibestos required asbestos in its manufacture. Documents prove that at the time, executives for Pittsburgh Corning were fully aware of the dangers of asbestos before they introduced Unibestos, but they continued with their plan regardless. The exact type used was amosite asbestos, which was obtained from mines in South Africa. Amosite asbestos has been found to be one of the most hazard forms of the material, and Unibestos products were made up of somewhere between 60 and 90 percent amosite.  Documents exist proving that the owner of the asbestos mines in South Africa warned Pittsburgh Corning executives of the danger their product presented. However, Pittsburgh Corning continued to purchase asbestos for 10 years after the warning.

Pittsburgh Corning began to receive further warnings about the dangers of asbestos, this time from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. At one point, their own company doctor also warned executives. In 1970, the general manager of the plant in Tyler, Texas, died from complications resulting from mesothelioma. The following year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health inspected the plant and found high levels of asbestos fibers circulating in the air. Finally, in 1972, Pittsburgh Corning discontinued the manufacture of Unibestos. The plant in Tyler was permanently closed and labeled by OSHA as non-repairable.

After tens of thousands of lawsuits, Pittsburgh Corning was forced into bankruptcy in 2000. Lawsuits were not only presented by their own employees but by workers in many fields who used Unibestos products. Pittsburgh Corning struggled to reorganize for nine years after filing bankruptcy. In 2009, as part of their Modified Third Amended Plan of Reorganization, they formed the Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Asbestos PI Trust to address past, current, and future suits regarding asbestos.

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