Part Three in a Series About Asbestos and the Military – What You Need to Know
Known to be toxic by the manufacturers who used it in products they provided to the U.S. military, asbestos was employed in practically every facet of military construction in every branch of the armed forces because of its valuable insulating and fire-resistant properties.
The lawyers at Baron & Budd never sue the United States military.
By the time the Air Force was designated as an independent branch of the United States military in 1947, the use of asbestos products supplied by American manufacturers to the armed forces was already widespread. Valued for its tensile strength and lightweight, its fire resistance and superior sound and heat insulating characteristics, asbestos fibers were incorporated into all manner of materials used in the construction of Air Force bases and radar stations on American soil and around the world, including Buckley, Chanute, Ellsworth, Tinker and Williams Air Force bases, among many others.
The presence of asbestos at Air Force facilities was confirmed by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention in 2002, when a plan was put into place to abate the widespread contamination. At that time, the CDC reported that building insulation, floor tile and adhesive, wallboard, plaster and pipe insulation at Burns Air Force Base in southeast Oregon contained up to 60% amosite and chrysotile asbestos fibers.
At Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, Illinois, which was closed in 1993, over 6,000 feet of asbestos-covered steam-pipes were removed. All that pipe insulation was above ground where it had become frayed by wear and tear. As the insulation deteriorated, asbestos fibers were released into the air, both outdoors and inside buildings, where it was undoubtedly breathed or ingested by hundreds of military personnel over the years. Additional underground steam tunnels spread across Chanute’s 640 acres, which still contain massive amounts of asbestos insulation in various states of disintegration, are slated for demolition in 2015.
In addition to their housing, offices, eating and recreational spaces, Air Force personnel were exposed to asbestos in the following ways:
Aircraft Control and Warning Radar Operators maintained and controlled numerous radar stations throughout the United States in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, all of which were built using asbestos construction materials. The Burns radar station in Oregon, which was closed by the Air Force in 1970, was actually declared a public health hazard in 2002 when high levels of airborne asbestos fibers, among other contaminants, were found all over the abandoned facility, both indoors and out. Despite signs posted by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality warning of the extreme risk of asbestos exposure, the heavily vandalized base was a popular hangout for area teenagers before most of the asbestos was abated in 2004.
In 1994 the U.S. Air Force developed guidelines for eradicating asbestos from its facilities and established requirements to “incorporate…asbestos management principles and practices into all Air Force programs”, according to the study. By then thousands of servicemen and women had passed through the doors of these bases and worked on or in its aircraft and vehicles, exposing them to the potentially harmful effects of asbestos fiber. These are the military personnel facing asbestos-related illnesses now.
Your country appreciates the sacrifices you made to protect and defend its citizens. A grateful nation should not have put its service members at risk for exposure to the deadly toxin asbestos. You will not be asked to sue the government or the military. We pursue compensation from the asbestos manufacturers who knew the danger of asbestos but used it in their products, anyway, to the detriment of thousands of dedicated service personnel.