When the State University of New York College at Oswego (SUNY Oswego) was founded in 1861, it was known as the Oswego Primary Teachers Training School. In its early years, the school was located in the City of Oswego. In 1913, the college relocated to its current location on the shores of Lake Ontario. Today, SUNY Oswego offers over 100 degree programs and boasts a student body of 8,200 students.
SUNY Oswego’s student enrollment began to rapidly increase shortly after the school was incorporated into the SUNY system in 1949. Between 1960 and 1969, and in order to accommodate the student enrollment increase, twenty-nine buildings were added to Oswego’s college campus. The campus currently consists of forty-six buildings that include classrooms, laboratories, residential and athletic facilities.
In recent years, laborers who assisted in the construction of buildings at SUNY Oswego have developed and died of mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. Prior to federal regulations placed on asbestos in the late 1970s, asbestos was incorporated into insulation and building materials, including joint compound, pipe covering and fireproofing materials. Workers who handled materials that contained asbestos or worked in the vicinity of others who did are at high risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma.
During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, SUNY Oswego maintenance personnel were also placed at risk for exposure to asbestos-containing materials. An intricate system of steam pipes, pumps and valves ran throughout numerous buildings on the SUNY Oswego campus. Maintenance personnel who repaired and maintained SUNY Oswego’s heating system were often required to replace asbestos-containing gaskets, which were contained within pipe flanges. Depending on the condition of the gasket, workers may have been required to scrape and grind the gasket from its flange, a process that emitted asbestos dust.
Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos-containing pipe covering was also utilized as insulation for SUNY Oswego’s steam pipe system. Due to wear and tear, it was common for asbestos-containing pipe covering to be removed and reapplied. After worn pipe covering was removed, asbestos insulation was reapplied so that the pipes could effectively contain steam. When asbestos-containing insulation was applied, it was cut with a band saw and the cement, used on pipe elbows, was mixed with water. Both processes emitted large amounts of asbestos-containing dust. 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 projects at SUNY Oswego were employed by various contractors throughout Central New York. If you or a loved one were once employed as a laborer at the SUNY Oswego campus and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.