Built in 1962, The Donovan Building was a 146,000 square foot building constructed from the former Lehigh Valley Terminal on Main Street in downtown, Buffalo, New York. It once housed eighteen state agencies, as well as offices for elected officials. In 2005, the building was vacated and scheduled for demolition in order to prepare the site for redevelopment in conjunction with the Canal Side project for Buffalo’s Inner Harbor. Since then, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation has reconsidered demolition, and is interested in renovating the Donovan Building into a multi-use office building.
In recent years, those who assisted in the construction of the Donovan Building have developed and died of mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos-containing fireproofing, floor and ceiling tiles, pipe covering, boiler and tank insulation, packing materials, mastic, and window glazing were used on a massive scale to construct the facility. Workers who handled materials that contained asbestos or worked in the vicinity of others who did are at high risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma.
When the Donovan Building was built in 1962, most trades, including carpenters, plasterers, pipe coverers, plumbers, insulators, fire proofers and boilermakers assisted in the construction of this facility. Prior to federal regulations placed on asbestos in the late 1970’s, asbestos was incorporated into numerous building materials. Asbestos-containing fireproofing was one of the most widely-used and most dangerous materials used during the construction of the Donovan Building.
Fireproof insulation is a mix of asbestos, cement and waste materials from linen mills. This material was packaged in bags, and dumped into a machine where it was mixed with water and then sprayed onto the Donovan Building’s steel substructure. During the application process of fireproofing, large clouds of dust and fibers were emitted into the air of the buildings where the material was being applied. Even long after this material was applied, the smallest vibrations had the potential to dislodge fibers into the air. In addition to fire proofers, iron workers, plumbers and electricians who worked with rebar and conduits on or in the vicinity of fireproofing material, were also put at risk for exposure to asbestos fibers and dust.
The Donovan Building also contained numerous tanks and boilers that were covered in asbestos-containing insulation. Packing materials, transite ceiling panels, floor tiles, window glazing, mastic, and floor tiles were also used during the construction of the Donovan Building. Inhaling dust and particles from the application and maintenance of asbestos-containing materials placed workers at risk of developing serious health problems. Even those not who were not in direct contact with asbestos materials remain at risk for the development of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Many union and non-union laborers who worked on the construction of the Donovan Building were employed by various contractors throughout Western New York. If you or a loved one were once employed in connection with the construction of the Donovan Building and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.