In 1903, the Washburn-Crosby Milling Company established a flour mill adjacent to the Frontier Grain Elevator on South Michigan Avenue in Buffalo, New York. In 1928, Washburn-Crosby became General Mills, after a merger with twenty-six other milling companies. The mill expanded steadily throughout the early Twentieth Century, and by 1941, it was the most productive flour mill in the world. In 1941, General Mills also began to manufacture breakfast cereal. Buffalo’s General Mills facility still produces world-famous brand names, such as Cheerios and Wheaties. The General Mills facility in Buffalo remains one of the company’s primary cereal and flour manufacturing facilities, and it employs around 500 workers.
Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos-containing materials covered production machinery, pipes and associated equipment throughout the General Mills facility in Buffalo. Due to wear and tear, contractors and maintenance personnel frequently removed and applied asbestos-containing materials. When workers handled asbestos-containing insulation, asbestos dust and fibers were released into the air and into the breathing zones of anyone in the vicinity. Most workers were completely unaware of the dangers of exposure to asbestos and performed their work without masks or protective gear. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer or other asbestos-related diseases.
Steam boilers, furnaces, ovens and kettles used in the manufacturing processes at General Mills were covered with asbestos block insulation in order to retain heat inside the equipment. Steam and hot water pipes throughout the General Mills facility were covered with asbestos-containing pipe covering. Insulating cement covered valves, pumps and pipe elbows. When these asbestos-containing materials were applied or removed, asbestos fibers were released into the air, which nearby workers inhaled.
Asbestos-containing thinset mortar was also utilized during the repair and reconstruction of tile floors and walls. Thinset was manufactured as a dry powder. Workers mixed it with water and applied it using a notched trowel. When thinset mortar was mixed with water, asbestos dust and fibers became airborne.
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 General Mills in Buffalo, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us regarding your legal rights.