Established at Virginia Beach, the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base became the top spot for education on how to land boats and crafts onto foreign territories. In 1942, it became the number one base for landing craft training, personnel landing crafts, amphibious crafts training, and infantry training. During World War II, it had about 200,000 naval and 150,000 army workers. It soon also became a maintenance site for Naval ships that were stationed in the area. However, World War II was a time when asbestos was widely used in repairing ships and its dangers were not known for years to come.
During much of its operation, the Little Creek Amphibious Base was home to thousands of workers who lived on the property. However, one of the drawbacks to living on this base was the constant exposure to asbestos. Many materials on these naval ships are exposed to high temperatures and thus asbestos was used to insulate them. At the time, the risks of asbestos were not widely known and workers did not protect their lungs from asbestos dust. This is the main cause of mesothelioma in many workers who have worked in shipyards.
Many employees that worked in these conditions were exposed to asbestos by the accidental inhalation of the small fibers during repairs. These fibers become stuck in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Over time, the lungs became inflamed and can lead to a cancer of the lungs. Symptoms of mesothelioma include chest pain, coughing, abdominal pain, wheezing, hoarseness, and shortness of breath.
The constant exposure to asbestos has been shown to cause malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis. As a matter of a fact, mesothelioma is an exclusive cancer that has been linked to consistently to asbestos exposure. Some friends and family members have developed mesothelioma by coming in contact with the clothes and hair of those who worked with asbestos.
Today, around 13,000 military personnel work at stations or attend schools at the base. While they are no longer at as high a risk as the old shipbuilding workers were, there is likely still asbestos in the facility’s structures, which may pose a risk if the buildings are renovated or demolished.