The lawyers at Lipsitz & Ponterio are very familiar with past conditions at Durez Plastics because, since 1985, we have represented many workers from the plant suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. In representing former Durez workers, we have learned that some people who lived or worked on the outskirts of the plant, between 1959 and 1979, have also developed mesothelioma. During these years, Durez Plastics used thousands of tons of raw asbestos to make plastic molding compound, which was sold and distributed throughout the United States. The North Tonawanda plant was also heavily insulated with asbestos-containing material.
Durez used raw asbestos fibers as a product ingredient to strengthen its plastic molding compounds. Giant mixers were used to combine raw asbestos with other materials. This was an extremely dusty process, and dust collectors were used to siphon off the dust from the mixers. The dust collectors were not effective, and asbestos dust escaped into the air and into the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The asbestos dust settled on surfaces, including cars, lawns, backyard swimming pools, rooftops, and even Ramsey Field, where little league activities were conducted in the 1960s and 1970s.
Former Durez workers describe the yards and alleyways between the manufacturing buildings as being covered with asbestos dust. At times, it was so dusty inside the plant buildings that it was difficult to see across the interior of the production units. According to many workers interviewed about the conditions at the plant, there were days when the asbestos dust came down from roof top dust collectors and in through the windows in the manufacturing buildings, just like snow. Asbestos dust escaped the confines of the Durez plant and landed in the surrounding neighborhood, exposing unsuspecting residents to hazardous asbestos dust and fibers.
The asbestos that was floating in the air was odorless and tasteless. It had no warning properties. The heavier concentrations emitted directly from the plant gave the air a bluish tint. By the time the dust floated out into the neighborhood, it was generally invisible in the air, although still toxic.
The North Tonawanda facility closed in 1994 and has since been demolished. There is no present asbestos danger lurking in the neighborhood. If you moved into the neighborhood after 1979, you should have no risk of contracting mesothelioma from past operations at Durez.
You may have a family member, friend or former neighbor who moved away from the area who has since been diagnosed with mesothelioma. They may have no awareness of having been exposed to asbestos. But, as we have learned, the diagnosis may be related to living in the neighborhood surrounding the former Durez plant.
If you lived, worked or played near the Durez plant in North Tonawanda any time before 1979, and you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer or another asbestos-related disease, please contact us.