In 1932, George E. Lewis, a former executive of the Carborundum Company, founded the Varcum Chemical Company. The Varcum plant is located on Packard Road in Niagara Falls, New York, and it is a manufacturer of raw phenolic resins used in the production of phenolic plastic. Phenolic plastic is utilized in a large percentage of all molded plastic products. In 1959, Varcum became a division of Reichhold Chemicals. In 1986, Varcum was acquired by BTL Industries, and in 1989, Durez, a division of Occidental Chemical, acquired the company. The Durez plant in North Tonawanda manufactured asbestos-containing plastic molding compound, which it sold to manufacturers of plastic molded parts. Since 2001, Durez has been a subsidiary of Sumitomo Bakelite North America. Asbestos was incorporated into numerous materials used in the maintenance and upkeep of the Varcum plant, including pipe covering, block insulation and gaskets. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.
Steam was vital to resin production at the Varcum plant. Steam was also used to heat the plant. Before federal regulations were placed on asbestos in the late 1970’s, steam lines throughout the plant were covered in asbestos-containing pipe covering. Boilers, steam generators, kettles and some holding tanks were covered in asbestos block insulation. Handling, cutting or disturbing asbestos insulation emitted asbestos fibers into the air. Once asbestos becomes suspended in the air, it remains there for quite some time. After it settles to the ground, it can easily become airborne again if disturbed. Workers who handled materials that contained asbestos, or worked in the vicinity of those who did, are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma.
Asbestos-containing gaskets were used in pumps, steam lines and other equipment. Asbestos was incorporated into gaskets because of its inherent strength and resistance to high temperatures. Workers at Varcum fabricated their own gaskets from sheets of asbestos-containing gasket material. Cutting gasket materials emitted asbestos dust into the air. When a gasket was replaced, it was scraped off the flange. The gasket removal process released asbestos dust and fibers into the air.
Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Our attorneys have the combined experience of more than thirty years representing victims of mesothelioma. If you or a loved one once worked at Varcum in Niagara Falls, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.