Martin Marietta Aluminum Co.

Located in The Dalles, Oregon, the Martin-Marietta Aluminum Company is owned by a parent company of the same name. The facility located there is a total of 350 acres in size. However, this location is just one of many other manufacturing and plants in the area, which take up a total of 800 acres throughout The Dalles. These plants are used for agriculture, manufacturing and heavy industry.

The facility was purchased by Martin Marietta in 1970 from a company by the name of Harvey Aluminum. The company created aluminum at the plant until 1984, when production at the facility was put on hiatus. Two years later, the location was leased to Northwest Aluminum, which started up the machinery once again.

Today, the location is run by Northwest Aluminum Specialties, Inc, which is a company based in Oregon. The company’s expertise is the creation of aluminum slugs and billets, intended for use in various processes such as hot and cold impact, hot and cold forging, and hot extrusion. Other common aluminum alloys are produced by the company as well.

Like most other metal plants, the Martin Marietta Aluminum Company used asbestos as an insulator for various purposes in the past. Unfortunately, the health risks of the insulator were not widely known by the general public. Asbestos was very appealing to metallurgical facilities. The material was an excellent insulator for both heat and electricity, making it ideal for containers of molten metal. It was also commonly used in heat resistant clothing, or by welders to protect them from the risk of electric shock.  However, the very same material turned out to by highly carcinogenic.

Asbestos consists of tiny fibers that are composed of crystalline minerals. When the fibers are held in place, they are not thought to be dangerous. Unfortunately, many methods of containing the fibers turned out to be ineffective.

Once airborne, the fibers are easily inhaled. Once in the lungs, they reside in the lining of the chest cavity. Interruptions of the normal cell division process can then cause cancerous cells to form in a disease known as mesothelioma. The cancer can be present for decades before symptoms begin to show. As soon as symptoms show, however, the disease progresses very rapidly in a process that can’t be stopped with modern medicine, typically resulting in death within two years.