Asbestos In Colorado
Nearly 600 Colorado residents have passed away from an asbestos-related condition. Asbestos occurs naturally in the environment, where it was significantly mined and manufactured into insulation or components of other products. Once inhaled, the fibers cannot be removed.
Decades of trapped asbestos fibers can cause healthy cells inside the mesothelium to mutate into malignant or cancerous cells. As a result, the person exposed can develop mesothelioma. Most asbestos-related deaths in Colorado consist of mesothelioma patients.
Until the 1980s, companies in Colorado used the carcinogen in their products or throughout their property to protect against overheated machinery or fires. While the toxin had plenty of benefits, if disturbed, exposure can be deadly.
Occupational Exposure In Colorado
Asbestos deposits and mining caused significant exposure throughout Colorado, but workplace exposure also threatened the health of thousands of workers. Occupations at risk of exposure include:
- Oil refining
- Power plants
Employers known for exposure to the carcinogen include:
- Anheuser-Busch Company
- Conoco Oil Refinery
- Gary Williams Energy
- Hudson Energy Company
- Lowry Air Force Base
- Oxnard Construction Company
- Pawnee Power Plant
- Peata Verde Silver Mining Company
- Ray D. Nixon Power Plant
Western Minerals Company Plant
Western Minerals Company Plant in Denver, Colorado processed over 80,000 tons of vermiculite ore between 1867 and 1990. The ore was shipped by W.R. Grace from Libby, Montana, and contained the toxin. The company exposed workers and nearby residents to significant amounts of the carcinogen.
Recent soil samples from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed small amounts of the toxin still remains in some areas of the site. While the site is now free of air contamination, past employees and nearby residents were likely exposed to airborne fibers.
Estes Power Plant
Estes Power Plant was constructed in Larimer County in 1950 and operated as a power production plant. Due to the high amount of heat required to operate a power plant, the carcinogen was built into the structure during construction. For decades, employees of the Estes Power Plant faced exposure.
In January of 2011, the U.S. Department of the Interior requested the carcinogen be removed from the buildings on site. Contaminated plaster and HVAC duct wrap had been removed to make the site less harmful, though many employees were already exposed to the toxin.
Asbestos In The Rocky Mountains
A report from the United States Geological Survey cited six natural asbestos deposits in Colorado, all occurring in the Rocky Mountains. The sites contain asbestos, and its associated minerals, including aegirine, tremolite, quartz, vermiculite, chlorite, clay, and more.
The natural deposits are located at several historic mining sites, including:
- Camp Albion Mining District
- Gem Park Complex
- Pinon Peak
- Salt Creek Vermiculite
- Sedalia Mine
- Sloan Pipe
Mining operations in Colorado include gold, silver, uranium, and coal. Disturbing natural rock and mineral deposits where the toxin has been found may lead to inhalation of airborne fibers.
While there are no active asbestos mines in Colorado, dozens of other active mining operations risk disturbing small deposits of the carcinogen. Some Colorado mines include:
- Dolores Co. Falcon Mine
- The Calumet Mine
- Hecla No. 2 Mine
- CF&I Company Mine
- Iron King Mine
- Peata Verde Silver Mining Company
Asbestos Shipments To Colorado
The multi-industry company W.R. Grace was founded by William Russell Grace in 1854. The company first specialized in fertilizer and machinery, but quickly got involved with shipping, banking, oil, healthcare, and mining. Mining operations included silver, clay, phosphate, tin, and ore.
The company shipped several million tons of ore across the United States from its mines in Libby, Montana. Shipments of the ore contained trace amounts of asbestos. Colorado received over 80,000 tons of the toxic ore in nearly 1000 shipments from 1948 to 1933. Cities in Colorado that received shipments from Libby include:
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Air Force Academy Exposure
The United States military significantly used the toxin among military property, including the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs. The carcinogen was used inside many structures throughout the academy. Recent demolitions of contaminated buildings are being monitored by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Air Pollution Control Division. Two on-base housing locations, Pine Valley and Douglass Valley, were built between 1958 and 1978 during the peak of asbestos use in the United States. In recent years, the Air Force took active steps in eliminating on-base property that contained the toxic fibers.
Legal Help In Colorado
The statute of limitations allows mesothelioma victims living in Colorado two years to file a claim after a diagnosis. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you could be eligible for compensation. If you need help filing a claim, fill out a free case evaluation form.