Garlock Sealing Technologies is a manufacturer of fluid-sealing products, including gaskets and compression packing. Founded in 1887 by Olin Garlock, the Garlock Packing Company’s primary manufacturing facility is located in Palmyra, New York. Garlock currently operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of EnPro Industries, Inc. (NYSE: NPO). Prior to December 31, 2000, Garlock incorporated asbestos into its products, including asbestos cloth, gaskets and packing materials. Additionally, equipment at Garlock’s plant was covered in asbestos-containing pipe covering and block insulation. In previous years, hundreds of asbestos claims were brought against Garlock. On June 5, 2010, Garlock Sealing Technologies filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina in order to establish a trust to resolve all current and future asbestos claims against the company (In re Garlock Sealing Technologies, No. 10-31607, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.). Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, as well as lung cancer and other diseases.
Raw asbestos fiber was delivered to Garlock in 100 pound bales wrapped in plastic. These bales were cut open, and the asbestos was dumped into a hopper and broken apart by hand to make the fibers easier to process. The asbestos fibers were then sent through a carding machine, which aligned the fibers in order to create a yarn. Handling and processing raw asbestos emitted clouds of asbestos fibers into the air. At times, the asbestos clouds were so thick that it became difficult to see. Anyone who worked in the vicinity of this process likely inhaled asbestos dust and fibers.
After the asbestos fiber was processed, it was spun into yarn and turned into thread on the spinners and creel. As the machines spun the yarn, asbestos fibers were emitted into the air. Workers used a loom to weave asbestos thread into asbestos cloth. Asbestos rope was braided from strands of yarn coated with a baked-on lubricant. Both processes emitted large amounts of asbestos into the air, which workers subsequently inhaled.
Gasket material manufactured by Garlock often contained asbestos. Raw asbestos fibers were added to a mix of materials, including rubber, filler materials and staining agents. These materials were mixed into a slurry and compressed into a mold or sheet gasket material. Raw asbestos fibers were added to the slurry to increase the strength and heat resistance of the gasket. Adding asbestos to the mixture prior to the molding process caused fibers to become airborne. After the molding process was complete, some gaskets were pre-punched according to customer specification. Punching the gaskets emitted asbestos fibers from the gasket material and produced asbestos-containing dust.
Asbestos-containing materials were also used in the maintenance and upkeep of Garlock’s Palmyra plant. Asbestos insulation covered steam lines and boilers. Due to normal wear and tear, these materials were removed and reapplied and, in the process, emitted dangerous levels of asbestos dust and fibers that contractors, maintenance personnel and workers inhaled. Sawing pipe covering and block insulation produced a great amount of asbestos dust which remained suspended in the air for some time after application or removal processes.
The attorneys at Lipsitz & Ponterio, LLC have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos-containing products at Garlock’s Palmyra facility. 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 Garlock, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.