Marco Shipyard, which is located in Seattle, Washington, was established in 1953 and has an international reputation with its buyers for construction of high quality ocean-going vessels. It holds one of the highest positions in the industry for the construction of aluminum and steel vessels, making it a popular builder with those working out of the Pacific Northwest. The facility underwent renovations, but ultimately closed in 2005. The company still operates a yard in Iquique, Chile, under the name of Marco Chilena.
Throughout the 1950s, Marco Shipyard was responsible for the construction of a number of different types of ships, including yachts, tugs, skiffs, gillnetters, and passenger vessels. The king crab boom of the 1970s brought in a large amount of business, and the U.S. Navy contracted several oil skimmers from the yard around this same time. In the 1980s, more than 800 workers at the shipyard turned out boats for Alaskan salmon fisheries. Unfortunately, a downturn in business in the first years of the 21st century, along with competition from other shipyards, meant that the Marco yard had to close in 2005
Before changes in the construction process and improvements to the facility were implemented, workers employed in the building of the ships were exposed to asbestos. This substance is a mineral that is utilized to insulate various materials and to make them fire resistant. Workers there were exposed to asbestos could breathe in the fibers that would enter the lungs and the body. Once the fibers had entered the body they could irritate, induced fluid to build up and cause the lungs to become inflamed. Many workers from the Marco Shipyard have been exposed to this material in the past while working on the construction of various ships and vessels.
Asbestos can also cause various terminal diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the chest cavity lining. There is currently no treatment that is available to cure mesothelioma and it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose in a patient. These facts have caused facilities such as the Marco shipyard to change the construction process and provide protection for workers to avoid exposure to the toxic fibers. The greatest danger to a worker occurs when he or she is subjected to exposure over a long period of time.