For those that have never seen the St. Louis Gateway Arch, it is hard to comprehend the scale of this magnificent landmark. In addition to the Arch itself, in which you can ride an elevator to the top and get a view of entire St. Louis area, there is an underground museum that is currently undergoing major construction.
While the work was initially going according to plan, work came to a standstill about three months ago when a contractor unintentionally cut into asbestos insulation that was surrounding an old steam pipe, as discussed in a recent news feature from the St. Louis Dispatch. Once the pipe was cut and the asbestos was detected, the entire work site had to be evacuated and all work had to stop at once. At this point, a certified asbestos abatement contractor was called in to the jobsite to perform a full assessment of the damage and to determine the next course of action. They soon discovered that this pipe had been cut by workers before the incident, which caused an evacuation work stoppage, and this other cut had been made about a month earlier. They were able to determine this based upon the location of the cut. This obviously caused fear among workers and project managers.
The reason asbestos is so dangerous is because when the fibers are inhaled, they can become embedded in a layer of tissue known as the mesothelium, where they can metastasize into a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma. It normally takes between 20 and 50 years for a victim to know they are sick, as they will have symptoms at that point, and, once they learn of the condition, they are normally told they only have a very short time left to live. It should be noted that while the average is 20 to 50 years, we do see cases where a patient developed tumors in around 10 years. In some cases, as our Boston mesothelioma attorneys have seen, tumors are discovered prior to a patient developing symptoms when the doctors see them during an unrelated surgery.
The project managers on the Gateway Arch believe, since the insulation was cut a month before anyone noticed the damage, the entire worksite was contaminated with asbestos dust and that at least 50 National Park Service employees, as well as many contractors, architects, and visitors were exposed to airborne asbestos.
The Park Service estimates that it will cost over $350,000 to clean up the hazardous asbestos and thinks the contractor who cut the pipe should have to pay. However, the contractor claims Park Service told them the area was clear of asbestos before they began cutting the pipes, so they believe they should not have to pay. There are negotiations still ongoing, and while money and time is a big problem, the real tragedy is that large number of people were exposed to deadly asbestos fibers.
There will be no way for doctors to know if the workers actually breathed in the fibers for many years, or if they will develop into mesothelioma. The long period of time it takes to become sick is one of the reasons companies got away with poisoning people for so long.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Asbestos error could cost Arch project $350,000, plus weeks of delay, January 27, 2016, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, By David Hunn
More Blog Entries:
Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Shipyard Workers, July 30, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog