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Lockheed and Shipyard 2: Designated as a Superfund site, Shipyard 2 as it came to be known, is an area that contributed to extensive asbestos exposure. Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company owned and operated the shipyard from 1959 to 1987. During that time, Lockheed produced several important ships. Unfortunately, this also led to increased exposure to asbestos for many workers.

Lockheed and Shipyard 2: History of Site

Shipyard 2 is located on Harbor Island on the Duwamish River in Seattle, Washington. At the time Lockheed purchased the site in 1959, there were already signs of asbestos contamination and that shipyard workers were suffering from long-term health consequences. A 1945 report from the Shipyard Safety Conference was known by then-owners Puget Sound Bridge and Dredge Company. This report detailed the health risk of asbestos exposure to shipyard workers. Even with this knowledge, asbestos use was continued as an insulator and mixing agent at the shipyard. Lockheed executives would later admit that the information within this report was never shared with workers.

The National Gypsum Company (NGC) made extensive use of asbestos in its products beginning with its founding in 1925 and not ending until 1970. This over four decades of use caused widespread exposure to asbestos fibers that eventually led to many lawsuits being filed against NGC. This would lead to the company filing for bankruptcy and forming an asbestos settlement trust fund.

History of NGC

NGC is still in business today, with its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. NGC was originally formed to produce light, flexible wallboard products. The company began including a gold bond certificate with its products promising to pay $5,000 to anyone who could prove another company’s wallboard was lighter and stronger. This marketing campaign became so successful NGC acquired a trademark on “Gold Bond.” The company began expanding the Gold Bond product line to other products, including plaster, acoustical tile, and rock wool, among numerous others. Many of these products contained asbestos.

Asbestos was extensively used in a wide variety of products until the 1980s. The material was popular because it was inexpensive and provided numerous benefits such as its strength and resistance to heat. Asbestos, however, is dangerous under certain circumstances. Due to the nature of asbestos, health issues may not become apparent for many years.

Danger in the Air

Asbestos containing materials are dangerous when the product is disturbed. This causes microscopic fibers to be released into the air. Asbestos is also considered dangerous when it is friable, which means that it can be easily crumbled with little pressure. Friable asbestos is more susceptible to having its fibers released into the air. Sprayed-on asbestos insulation is considered highly friable, whereas asbestos floor tile is not.

The use of asbestos sheets for various construction projects began in 1907. These sheets were made from asbestos cement and were used in residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Asbestos sheets are considered to be of medium toxicity, but they are generally not friable and not banned from use.

Types of Sheets

Before asbestos sheets were used, fires were able to spread very quickly, which often resulted in the complete loss of buildings. The various types of asbestos sheets include:

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