Cascade General Shipyard, located on the west coast, is the largest facility of its kind in the region. The facility provides all around capabilities for building ships, as well as maintaining them. Specializing in commercial vessels, the company also has a history of working for the US Navy. Many vessels it commonly produces include cruise ships, barges, supertankers, and repair vessels. There are many offshoots of the company as well, which offer a variety of complimentary services to their clients.
Since the Cascade General Shipyard was around during the beginning and middle part of the 20th century, it often utilized asbestos during the production of its vessels. Today, the carcinogen is widely recognized as the causal agent for mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the pleural linings surrounding organs like the heart and lungs. Asbestos was viewed as a great material because it can effectively resist high amounts of heat, reduce the spread of fires and stop caustic chemicals from leaking onto sensitive materials. Ironically, it was actually used in protective gear worn by shipyard workers as well.
Eventually, the material was banned from being used in the production of any new vessel. After the 1970s, workers were required to use special gear and masks whenever handling the substance. Unfortunately, workers before that time were often exposed to the material without any form of protection. It was commonly sprayed directly onto vessels, and in the process dust was released into the working area in mass amounts.
Once the asbestos enters the body it cannot be removed. Initially the substance seems to cause no problems, but after decades of lying dormant, diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis can occur. Mesothelioma is particularly dangerous since it can take awhile to diagnose, and severely reduces of those affected by it. Asbestosis and other asbestos related diseases aren’t quite as dangerous, but they can detract from a person’s overall quality of life as well.
Being able to attribute previous exposure to asbestos to current symptoms is essential for a person to receive proper diagnosis. The problem is that many shipyard workers weren’t aware of the substance’s toxicity. Even seOregoncondhand exposure has been proven to lead to these deadly diseases.