General Motor’s Central Foundry Division, now a part of GM Powertrain, was founded in 1917, in Saginaw, Michigan, by sixteen men as the Saginaw Malleable Iron Company. Foundries melt iron ore, steel and other ingredients in order to create various parts used to make cars, specifically car engines. Two years after it was established, the company was sold to GM, and expanded to three plants, including the original Saginaw plant, Grey Iron Foundry in Tonawanda, New York, and Saginaw Steering Geer. In 1946, under the Central Foundry Division, GM combined these plants and several others throughout the United States. At its peak in 1967, the Central Foundry Division was the largest foundry organization in the world, employing over 11,000 workers.
Prior to federal regulations imposed in the 1970s, asbestos-containing materials were applied to hot surfaces in many foundries, such as the Tonawanda site, because of its fire resistant and insulating qualities. At the Tonawanda plant, cupolas (or furnaces) were used to melt and pour metal to create castings and parts. Asbestos insulation covered the pipes and ducts associated with these furnaces.
The Tonawanda plant’s boiler house contained several large industrial boilers. Asbestos insulation covered parts of the boilers and many of the associated piping, valves and pumps inside the boiler house. Asbestos-containing insulation materials located in the foundry and boiler house were repaired and replaced on a regular basis by outside insulation contractors. Old insulation was torn off, and new insulation was cut to fit the piping and contours of the boilers. GM workers, as well as outside contractors, including iron workers, insulators, boilermakers, sheet metal workers, electricians and those who worked in the foundry itself or boiler house may have been exposed to high levels of asbestos dust, a major risk factor for developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases.
Lipsitz & Ponterio, LLC, represents former workers and retirees from the GM Central Foundry a.k.a GM Powertrain. In the process of representing these workers and their families, we have gathered extensive knowledge concerning aspects of the asbestos containing products to which these workers were exposed. If you or a loved one were once employed at the GM Central Foundry in Tonawanda, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.