Found on the Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon, the Astoria Voyage Repair Station is owned by Cascade General. Its main operations involve repairs of sea vessels and other large ships. The Astoria is a huge facility that is able to repair large marine vessels that are up to 1,100 feet. In addition, this repair shop is able to accommodate up to three 1,100 foot vessels at one time.
To service these large vessels, the Astoria Voyage Repair Station has a 120-ton crane and a fuel tank. This repair station also features on-water storage, water-side repair, and dry storage. Any ships or boats that are sailing on the west coast can also take advantage of these services by pulling up to the pier for repairs.
With the ability to do so many repairs on such big vessels, the chance of workers becoming exposed to asbestos increases dramatically. These repair shops have a high amount of asbestos handling and many workers are subjected to exposure on a daily basis. On many boats, especially those that are older, asbestos is used as fireproofing and insulation in the walls. With time and exposure to the elements, asbestos is very likely to break down and crumble into fibers. This makes inhalation of these fibers easier and more likely to get lodged in your lung, heart, or abdominal cavities.
If these fibers get stuck in your lungs, the chances of developing mesothelioma are high. The body is not able to expel these fibers easily and this causes irritation in the lungs. This irritation has a high chance of becoming cancerous if not treated quickly. Mesothelioma can also be developed by contact with work clothes or hair that has asbestos fibers in it. This condition is known as secondary exposure and can also cause mesothelioma in family members of the shipyard worker.
Symptoms of mesothelioma are latent and do not show up quickly. In fact, many symptoms may not show up for 20 to 50 years. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, chest pain, abdominal pain, and hoarseness of the voice. Many people who have mesothelioma are not even aware of it until it is too late. Mesothelioma is very difficult to treat in its advanced stages and survival rates may be low. If caught early, mesothelioma can be treated and potentially even held in remission.