In 1848, Seabury S. Gould purchased the interests of Edward Mynderse and H.C. Silsby in Downs, Mynderse & Co., and the firm became Downs & Co, which was a manufacturer of wooden pumps. In 1849, during the first year of the Gold Rush, Mr. Gould cast his first all-iron pump. He believed that his pumps would eventually provide fresh flowing water for the pioneers who were opening the West; assist farmers in irrigating farms in the East; and deliver water to the vast plantations in the South. In Seneca Falls, New York, in 1869, Mr. Gould incorporated his company as Goulds Manufacturing Company.
Goulds manufactured a variety of iron products, including church bells, tools and corn shellers; but, it quickly became known for its innovative iron pumps. In 1926, and under the leadership of Seabury Gould’s grandson, Norman J. Gould, the company’s name changed to Goulds Pumps, Inc. Norman J. Gould guided the company through periods of vast changes in technology and industrial job sites. Throughout the twentieth century, Goulds manufactured pumps for a variety of industries, including chemical, pulp and paper, mining, mineral processing, oil and gas, power, water and wastewater. Goulds Pumps was managed and operated by the Gould family until 1964, when control of the company shifted to public stockholders. Goulds Pumps was acquired in 1997 by ITT Industries, Inc., a global diversified manufacturing company based in White Plains, New York. With offices, manufacturing facilities and warehouses worldwide, Goulds Pumps continues to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of ITT Industries fluid technology segment. Today, Goulds Pumps headquarters remain in Seneca Falls, New York, and it employs over 5,000 people.
Pumps designed by Goulds are used in a variety of applications and must be designed to withstand high temperatures and corrosive chemicals. Industrial sites, such as Hooker Chemical, Durez Plastics, Bethlehem Steel, Ashland Oil, Carborundum and Union Carbide utilized Goulds pumps in the manufacturing process of a variety of products. Up until the late 1970s, asbestos could be found in gaskets, packing materials and valves contained within Goulds pumps. Exposure to asbestos-containing materials can cause mesothelioma or lung cancer, years after an initial exposure to airborne asbestos fibers.
Asbestos gaskets were primarily used in pumps because of their durability and ability to withstand high temperatures and corrosive materials, such as sulfuric acid. Gaskets were fabricated from sheets of asbestos-containing gasket material. The process of cutting or removing asbestos-containing gasket materials emitted asbestos dust into the air, which workers inhaled.
Asbestos-containing packing materials were also installed in pumps manufactured by Goulds. Asbestos-containing packing materials prevented hot water or dangerous chemicals from leaking. When Goulds pumps were put into operation, packing materials were removed and replaced on a regular basis. Workers removed packing materials with a tool called a packing puller. When the worn packing was removed, new packing was cut to fit the diameter of the stem or shaft. Removing and installing packing materials also emitted asbestos-containing dust and fibers. Workers who assisted in the manufacturing process of Goulds pumps, or workers, such as plumbers and steamfitters, who were responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of Goulds pumps are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Beginning in the 1940s, Goulds Pumps were installed on numerous United States Naval vessels. Plumbers, steamfitters, boilermakers, insulators and other marine staff who were involved in the maintenance and repair of Goulds pumps on Naval vessels were at risk for exposure to asbestos-containing materials.
Dozens of asbestos-containing materials, such as refractory materials and insulating cement, were also utilized in the facilities where Goulds pumps were manufactured. Asbestos-containing refractory materials lined the interior of ladles and furnaces used in the manufacturing process of pumps. A refractory material is a non-metallic insulation that is resistant to high temperatures. It was common for furnace men and other tradesmen to mix the dry asbestos-containing insulation with water and apply it to the inside of furnaces. Pouring and mixing refractory materials caused asbestos dust and fibers to become airborne, which workers inhaled.
Plumbing and steam lines, valves and pumps at Goulds Pumps plants were also covered in asbestos-containing insulation. During maintenance and repair procedures, workers removed the insulation in order to access the equipment associated with plumbing systems. When maintenance or repair procedures were completed, new asbestos-containing insulation was applied. Removing and applying asbestos-containing insulation caused asbestos dust to become airborne.
Inhaling dust and particles from the application and maintenance of asbestos-containing materials placed workers at risk of developing serious health problems. Even those who were not in direct contact with asbestos materials remain at risk for developing mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one once worked for Goulds Pumps, Inc., or installed, maintained or repaired pumps manufactured by Goulds and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.