Alcoa’s Massena Operations is the world’s oldest continuously operating aluminum production and fabrication facility. Alcoa, or the Aluminum Company of America, was founded in 1902 as the Pittsburgh Reduction Company. Alcoa’s smelting facility is located outside Massena, New York, in order to take advantage of the abundant hydroelectric power in the area. Alcoa smelts aluminum from aluminum oxide and casts it into basic shapes for use by industrial customers. When Alcoa merged with Reynolds Metals in 2000, the original Alcoa facility became known as the Massena West Plant, and the Reynolds facility became known as the Massena East Plant. In 2014, Alcoa ceased operations at its Massena East plant. As of 2016, Massena West is still operating at full capacity. Located on North Grasse River Road, the Massena West facility consists of 72 buildings on over 1,100 acres of land, and it currently employs over 700 people.
Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos was incorporated into dozens of materials used at Alcoa in Massena. Workers who handled asbestos materials or were in the vicinity of others who did are at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
During manufacturing processes at Alcoa, laborers operated dozens of electrical furnaces and electrolytic cells (also known as pots) in order to extract aluminum from aluminum oxide, which is also called alumina. The interiors of the electrical furnaces and pots were lined with asbestos-containing refractory materials, which were capable of resisting high temperatures. Due to constant wear and tear, the refractory materials deteriorated and required replacement. During the removal and application processes of refractory materials, asbestos-containing dust and fibers became airborne, which workers inhaled.
Asbestos-containing materials were also utilized in maintenance and repair procedures at the Alcoa facility in Massena. Steam boilers and pipes were covered with asbestos-containing insulation. Asbestos gaskets were used to ensure a tight seal between flanges of valves, pumps and pipes. Asbestos-containing packing material was used in order to prevent leaks in valve stems and pump shafts. During maintenance and repair procedures, workers removed worn asbestos insulation; scraped gaskets from flanges; and replaced packing material. These processes released asbestos-containing dust into the air, which laborers inhaled.
Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one were once employed at Alcoa in Massena, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.