There have been more U.S. Naval Shipyards located in California than in any other state. From Mare Island near San Francisco to Long Beach, thousands of men and women worked in these shipyards in the twentieth century. It is now known that these workers were exposed to asbestos and later may have developed asbestos-related disease. Asbestos is present in the insulation used for boiler pipes and any pipes that carried hot water or steam on a ship. Whether building the ship or living on or near it, exposure was probable.
Statistics have shown that of the claims filed for exposure to asbestos that caused mesothelioma or lung cancer, more than 25 percent were military, shipyard, or ship construction workers. Thousands of workers from California’s naval shipyards were exposed as they repaired, built, or renewed ships. Many more thousands have been exposed by secondhand contact. In fact, the U.S. Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point has been deemed a toxic waste site by the Environmental Protection Agency. Asbestos is listed in documents relating to cleanup there because of its presence in the soil.
While thousands have already developed disease as a result of their exposure in California, it can be possible that thousands more could develop cancer, mesothelioma or asbestosis in the future. The U.S. Navy cannot be held responsible for exposing men and women to asbestos, however, private companies that supplied it sometimes take responsibility for the illness, pain and suffering caused.
Mesothelioma symptoms can mimic many other health problems, so anyone working at or living near a U.S. Naval shipyard since 1900 needs to inform their physician about their exposure to asbestos. It is important to inform friends and loved ones about this risk so they can inform their physician. Anyone working or living near the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and Treasure Island Naval Station could be affected by asbestos. Other Naval shipyards located in or near San Francisco, and the U.S. Naval Shipyard at Mare Island may also have been affected. If a doctor finds evidence of disease that may have been caused by exposure to asbestos, be certain to seek more information about the condition and the ship or shipyard that may have been the site of exposure.