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A Journey of Asbestos Liability, Mines and Movie Effects

Asbestos Mining Truck HaulersIt has been a while now, but during a trip to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, researching a movie story on mining, where I had visited a working gold mine and some other locations where giant trucks hauled away rocks and boulders blasted from the hillside, I found myself at one mine site of a massive hole carved away, but my guide said, “better not go down there”. I asked why, since the entire point of the tour was to visit mining sites, but the answer came back in one word “Asbestos”.

This giant gash in the earth I was viewing from afar was an asbestos mine. Okay, then, I think I’ll stay away. In fact, I began to wonder why they were allowing an open pit mine of asbestos at all. Can you say Mesothelioma? The mine was in fact on a list to shut down and no longer in operation. But the big gash of the stuff is still there. Asbestos seemed at one time to be a very effective fire retardant and heat resistant lightweight fibrous material, which found its way into construction, insulation, and fireproof cooking gloves. It also turned out the fine fibers entered the human body through the lungs and attached themselves to the lining of the lungs and abdominal cavity, resulting in a rare form of cancer, malignant mesothelioma.

Television airwaves and cable channels are now filled with advertisements for legal liability assistance for Mesothelioma and other cancers related to asbestos exposure. It’s a lucrative activity for a civil lawyer who specializes in industrial exposure to asbestos, since the cause is very specific to Mesothelioma, so that for anyone looking for a settlement for contracting the debilitating malady and suffering damage is relative obvious. If you have come to this site looking for a cure or legal assistance in a medical case, your journey will have to take you elsewhere, this is neither about health care nor legal consultation.

I had a relative who suffered from years of debilitating lung damage and COPD from a long career working for a chemical company, paying with his health for decades of working around particulate matter floating in the atmosphere, without breathing protection. He would come home from his job with shoes covered with a white-gray powder, and when he was lying in a hospital bed, with breathing tubes, I could just imagine what that powder had done to his lungs for all those years. But the company had been good to him, and he never thought to file a law suit, or bring an action of liability for careless disregard to industrial exposure. He could have, and I think he probably should have, but probably felt more loyalty to the company he’d worked for his entire working life.

In this case, it was not asbestos that was the culprit, and his collection of diseases did not include Mesothelioma, but lymphoma and lung damage, although the causation and resulting remedy of liability would have been the same, while over the years the concept of liability for health risk has risen to the point of extraordinary efforts to avoid actionable causation cases. The chemical plant where he worked is now gone, and in its place is a toxic waste site surrounded by light industrial business parks.

The special care of risk of asbestos exposure and fear of lawsuits has even risen to an extraordinary degree. This was rather demonstrated on another occasion in the same area neighborhood not far from where I had viewed the asbestos mine. On a movie shoot, we had laid special effects on an abandoned lumber mill outbuilding, with the effect of catching it on fire. It was a process where backboards were mounted behind the windows for fire pots, to make it appear as if an explosion came from inside. It’s relatively common movie magic, but on this effect, a bit of flame had caught an overhanging eve. It was quickly put out by the standby safety crew, except that on inspection, it turned out the old building had asbestos insulation in the ceiling. The result, an entire hazmat demolition team in protective suits had to be hired to tear down the building and dispose of the hazardous waste in a dump site.

This was an expensive proposition, but it occurred to me that the dangerous substance once considered a marvel of modern technology, dug from one great hole in the ground by exposed miners who would sue for damage to their health, was being buried back in the ground, not far from where it had come, by other workers, wearing breathing gear protective suits, so their employers would not have to compensate them and their liability lawyers advertised during the breaks of the program with special effects explosions, a full circle. © Bargain Travel West

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