In 1947, the Pathfinder Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Goodyear Tire & Rubber, constructed a chemical plant at the corner of 56th Street and Baker Avenue in Niagara Falls, New York. The plant consisted of ten buildings on twenty-three acres of land, and it manufactured vinyl resins and chemical additives used in the production of synthetic rubber for automotive tires. In 1957, Pathfinder Chemical was renamed the Goodyear Chemical Division. During its peak production years in the early 1990s, the Goodyear plant employed over 300 workers. Due to the closure of the vinyl manufacturing department and decreased demand for its products, the plant workforce decreased to fewer than one hundred.
Up until the late 1970s, workers at Goodyear Tire & Rubber were exposed to asbestos-containing materials used during maintenance and repairs on production equipment, boilers and steam pipes. Block insulation, pipe covering, gaskets and insulating cement contained asbestos. Workers who handled asbestos-containing materials, or those who worked in the vicinity of where these materials were utilized are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Steam was utilized at Goodyear in order to heat plant buildings and to run equipment throughout the plant. A network of pipes delivered steam to radiators and production equipment. Asbestos-containing pipe covering, insulating cement and block insulation associated with the steam system at Goodyear’s Niagara Falls plant covered boilers, pipes and valves. During maintenance and repair procedures on the steam system, workers removed asbestos-containing insulation in order to access equipment. After the procedure was completed, new insulation was applied. Removing, applying or handling asbestos-containing insulation caused asbestos dust and fibers to become airborne, which workers inhaled.
In order to ensure a tight seal between pipe flanges and equipment within the steam system, asbestos-containing gaskets were utilized in boilers, pumps and valves. Gaskets were frequently removed and replaced during maintenance procedures. Workers fabricated new gaskets from sheets of asbestos-containing gasket material, or they used prefabricated gaskets. When workers scraped or fabricated gaskets, asbestos fibers became airborne. Many workers were not aware of the dangers of exposure to asbestos dust and carried on their work without masks or protective gear.
Inhaling dust and particles from the application and maintenance of asbestos-containing materials placed workers at risk for developing serious health problems. Even those who were not in direct contact with asbestos materials remain at risk for the development of mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one once worked at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Niagara Falls, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.