In 1919, Allan Ramming established the Electro Refractories and Alloys Corporation in six buildings on Willett Road in Blasdell, New York. The company added an abrasives division in 1949 and changed its name to the Electro Refractories and Abrasives Corporation. It manufactured abrasives, refractories, grinding wheels and crucibles used in foundries. In 1968, Electro merged with Ferro Corporation, and it operated as separate refractories and abrasives division within Ferro. Abrasives Division management completed a buyout from Ferro in 1987 and became a separate company known as Electro Abrasives. In 1992, Vesuvius USA acquired the Electro Refractories division from Ferro. In 2008, the Vesuvius plant closed and all production was outsourced to foreign manufacturers. Among its workforce, the company was commonly known as Ferro.
Up until the late 1970’s, dozens of asbestos-containing materials were utilized at Electro in the manufacturing process and during maintenance procedures. Block insulation, pipe covering, insulating cement, gaskets, packing and electrical wires contained asbestos. Asbestos was also incorporated into drying trays used during the manufacturing process. Inhaling dust and particles from the application and removal of asbestos-containing materials placed workers at risk for developing mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Steam was used in the manufacturing process and to heat the buildings at Ferro. A network of pipes delivered steam to manufacturing equipment and radiators. Asbestos-containing insulation was applied to boilers, pipes, valves, pumps and other equipment throughout the steam system. Workers who performed maintenance within the steam system removed asbestos insulation in order to gain access to the equipment. New insulation was applied when these procedures were completed. The process of removing and applying insulation caused asbestos-containing dust to become airborne, which workers inhaled.
Asbestos-containing gaskets were utilized in order to ensure a tight seal between flanges on pipes, pumps and valves. Gaskets were fabricated from sheets of asbestos-containing gasket material. Cutting gasket material emitted asbestos fibers into the air. During maintenance and repair procedures on pipes and pumps, gaskets were removed and replaced. Scraping or removing gaskets also produced asbestos-containing dust, which workers inhaled.
Asbestos-containing packing material was also used to prevent leaks from pump shafts and valve stems. Workers replaced packing material during maintenance and repairs. Old packing material was pulled from valve and pump glands. New packing material was cut and manipulated to fit the diameter of the valve stem or pump shaft. Removing and installing packing material caused asbestos-containing dust and fibers to become airborne. Most workers were completely unaware of the dangers of exposure to the asbestos dust, and performed their work without masks or protective gear.
Lipsitz & Ponterio, LLC has represented two former Ferro workers who were diagnosed with mesothelioma and one worker diagnosed with lung cancer. Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma. If you or a loved one once worked at Ferro (also known as Electro Refractories and Abrasives) in Blasdell, New York and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.