Niagara University was founded as the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels in 1856 by the Vincentian Community, a Roman Catholic religious order. In 1883, the university changed its name to Niagara University as more secular areas of study were offered. Located on Lewiston Road in Niagara Falls, New York, Niagara University’s campus consists of thirty buildings on 160 acres overlooking the Niagara River gorge. The university offers bachelor’s and graduate degrees in over fifty subject areas, and it enrolls approximately 4,200 students annually.
Up until the late 1970s, asbestos-containing materials were used during the construction of Niagara University. Pipe covering, block insulation, refractory material, asbestos rope, insulating cement and fireproof insulation contained asbestos. Inhaling dust and particles from the application and removal of asbestos-containing materials placed workers at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Boilers at Niagara University produced steam in order to heat campus buildings. Steam was delivered to the buildings through an underground network of pipes that were insulated with asbestos-containing pipe covering. Valves, pumps and pipe elbows within the steam system were covered with asbestos-containing insulating cement. Additionally, asbestos rope provided an adequate seal on maintenance access doors on steam boilers. When workers accessed the interior of a boiler, the asbestos rope was removed and replaced with new rope. The interiors of the boilers were also lined with asbestos-containing refractory material, which protected the firebricks inside the boiler from heat damage. During regular maintenance, worn refractory material was removed and replaced. When asbestos-containing refractory materials, pipe covering and insulating cement were removed and reapplied, asbestos-containing dust and fibers became airborne, which workers inhaled.
During the construction of numerous buildings on the Niagara University campus, asbestos-containing fireproof insulation was sprayed onto the buildings structural steel. Fireproof insulation was a dry mixture of cement, linen and asbestos. Workers poured bags of fireproof insulation into a machine, where it was mixed with water and sprayed onto the structural steel with a hose. The fireproofing application process produced clouds of asbestos-containing dust. Additionally, tradesmen disturbed the fireproof insulation after it was applied in order to hang pipes, ventilation ducts or electrical conduits from the structural steel. When the fireproof insulation was disturbed, asbestos-containing dust and fibers became airborne. Most workers were completely unaware of the dangers of exposure to the asbestos dust and performed their work without masks or protective gear.
Many union and non-union laborers who worked on construction and renovation projects at Niagara University were employed by various contractors throughout Western New York. If you or a loved one were once employed as a laborer at Niagara University and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us regarding your legal rights.