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.
Shipyard activities first began during World War II. During Lockheed’s ownership of the site, the company held several defense contracts. Throughout the 1960s, Lockheed produced Knox class frigates and seven platform dock ships, including the USS Denver and the USS Juneau. Additionally, workers at Shipyard 2 built Coast Guard icebreakers and submarine tenders in the 1970s. The activities of Lockheed at Shipyard 2 included ship berthing, repair, maintenance, and construction.
Following Lockheed’s discontinuance of operations in 1987, Shipyard 2 sat idle until the following year when the Port Authority of Seattle purchased it. Left behind was discarded asbestos and other potentially chemical contaminants. In March 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added Shipyard 2 to the Superfund National Priorities List and named the site “Lockheed West Seattle.” Lockheed (which merged with Martin Marietta in 1994, becoming Lockheed-Martin) continues to promise to fund studies and cleanup of the site. A work plan was proposed in 2010 and cleanup began in 2011. As of August 2013, the estimated cost of cleanup was $48.1 million.
Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is damaged or disturbed, which releases microscopic fibers into the air. Breathing those fibers into the lungs, particularly over a long period of time, can lead to the development of serious health issues such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos was extensively used during much of the twentieth century because it provided strength and fire-resistance to products. For these reasons, asbestos was often used in the production of ships, including ships built for the U.S. Navy. Asbestos was also extensively used in the construction of commercial, residential, and industrial buildings.
Exposure to asbestos can lead to significant health complications, which often result in large medical costs. In some cases, it may be possible to recover damage awards against those responsible for your exposure. For more information related to asbestos-related claims, contact an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, we understand how difficult it is for victims of asbestos exposure and would be proud to use our knowledge to help.