American Brass

The Buffalo Copper & Brass Rolling Mills Company was established in 1906 at the corner of Sayre Street and Military Road in Buffalo, New York. At the time, the facility was the largest brass rolling mill in the United States. In 1917, it was purchased by the American Brass Company. The Anaconda Copper Mining Company acquired American Brass in 1922 in order to integrate its mining business into copper and brass manufacturing. For over forty years, American Brass was a subsidiary company of Anaconda. In 1977, both Anaconda and American Brass were acquired by the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO). After years of declining profits, ARCO sold American Brass to the Buffalo Brass Company. American Brass profits increased, and in 1990, it was acquired by Outokumpu Oyj, a Finnish mining company. In 2005, Outokumpu sold American Brass to the Swedish investment firm Nordic Capital, and it was renamed Luvata Buffalo. In 2011, the facility was acquired by Aurubis AG, a German copper company. Throughout its history, the American Brass Buffalo plant manufactured brass and copper products, including anodes, sheets, strips, tubes, wires, connectors and military ammunition casings. It currently employs around 600 people.

Asbestos was incorporated into numerous materials at American Brass, including refractory materials, asbestos rope, electrical wire insulation, gaskets, pipe covering, insulating cement, transite pipe and block insulation. Workers who handled asbestos materials or worked in the vicinity of others who did are at risk for developing mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

During manufacturing processes at American Brass, workers utilized dozens of electrical furnaces in order to melt, anneal and soften metals. The interiors of the electrical furnaces were lined with asbestos-containing refractory materials, which protected the furnace from degrading. Asbestos-containing refractory materials are capable of resisting high temperatures, but the refractory materials deteriorated after constant use and required replacement. During the removal and application of refractory materials, asbestos-containing dust and fibers became airborne, which workers inhaled.

Electrical wiring that supplied power to the furnaces was also insulated with an asbestos-weave jacket in order to protect the wire from high temperatures. In copper and brass molds, asbestos rope was used as a packing material in order to ensure that molten metal did not fall into the gaps between the molds.

Asbestos-containing materials were also utilized in maintenance and repair procedures at the American Brass facility in Buffalo. Steam boilers, pipes, valves and pumps were covered with asbestos-containing insulation. Asbestos gaskets were used to ensure a tight seal between flanges of valves, pumps and pipes. In high-temperature areas of the facility, transite pipe was utilized as an electrical conduit. Transite pipe was composed of cement and asbestos. During maintenance and repair procedures, workers removed worn pipe covering or block insulation; scraped gaskets from flanges; and replaced damaged transite pipes. These processes released asbestos-containing dust into the air, which workers 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 American Brass in Buffalo, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us regarding your legal rights.

* Image above provided by: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Engineering Record, Reproduction Number NY,15-BUF,25-6

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