In 1923, the Dunlop Tire & Rubber Company built its first American plant on Sheridan Drive in Tonawanda, New York. The plant consists of ten manufacturing buildings on 130 acres. Dunlop remained an independent company until 1986, when Sumitomo Rubber Industries acquired it. In 1997, Goodyear Tire & Rubber obtained a seventy-five percent controlling interest in Dunlop, and it was renamed Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America. The Dunlop plant in Tonawanda has manufactured tires for a wide variety of automobiles, motorcycles and aircraft. The Sheridan Drive plant is the only remaining location where motorcycle tires are manufactured in North America.
Asbestos-containing materials covered a vast majority of the pipe lines and associated equipment throughout Dunlop’s Sheridan Drive plant. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. Pipes were covered with asbestos-containing insulation in order to protect the pipes from high temperatures or corrosive materials. In order to prevent leaks, pump shafts and valve stems were packed with asbestos rope packing materials and sealed with asbestos gaskets. Due to wear and tear, workers removed worn asbestos-containing materials and applied new materials. When asbestos-containing materials were removed or applied, asbestos dust and fibers became airborne, which workers inhaled. Most workers were completely unaware of the dangers of exposure to asbestos dust, and they performed their work without masks or protective gear.
Asbestos-containing gaskets ensured a tight seal on the flanges, which connected pipes to pumps, valves and other associated equipment. Asbestos was incorporated into gaskets because of its inherent strength, as well as its resistance to corrosion and high temperatures. During maintenance or repairs, gaskets were frequently replaced. Because the gaskets were sealed tightly between flanges, workers scraped the gaskets from the flange. New gaskets were cut from sheets of asbestos-containing gasket material. The gasket replacement process released asbestos into the air and into the breathing zone of the workers.
Additionally, steam boilers at Dunlop were insulated with asbestos block insulation. This insulation was manufactured in flat, rectangular blocks, and it was cut to fit the boilers. Gaps in between pieces of block insulation were filled with asbestos-containing insulating cement. Firebricks inside the boilers were covered with asbestos refractory material in order to protect the bricks from high temperatures. Refractory materials required frequent replacement because of the high temperatures the boilers reached. Removing and applying block insulation, insulating cement or refractory materials gives rise to high levels of asbestos-containing dust.
In the process of representing workers and their families, we have gathered a vast amount of information on the type and variety of asbestos-containing products to which our clients were exposed. 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 Dunlop Tire & Rubber and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us regarding your legal rights.