The South Buffalo Railway Company was established in 1899, as a short-line railroad owned by the Lackawanna Steel Company, the predecessor to Bethlehem Steel. The railway also served other customers in Lackawanna, including Donner-Hanna Coke, Ford and Republic Steel. The South Buffalo Railway spanned over fifty miles of track in Western New York. Bethlehem Steel owned the South Buffalo Railway until 2001, when it sold the railway to Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. The South Buffalo Railway was integral to steel making operations at Bethlehem Steel as it provided rail transport for the raw materials used to manufacture steel. The railway was the main form of transport between various points in the plant, including the basic oxygen furnace, open hearth furnaces, blast furnaces, coke ovens, bar mills and rolling mills.
In recent years, former employees of the South Buffalo Railway have developed and died from mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases. Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos insulation materials were utilized in South Buffalo Railway maintenance buildings. Pipe covering, insulating cement and block insulation covered steam pipes and boilers within the buildings heating systems. When workers performed maintenance or repairs on the heating system, asbestos-containing dust became airborne, which workers inhaled. During maintenance and repairs on railway equipment, asbestos-containing brake shoes and gaskets were frequently removed and replaced with new shoes or gaskets. The removal and installation processes of brake shoes and gaskets released asbestos fibers into the air, which workers inhaled.
Asbestos was incorporated into materials used during the steel making process, including refractory mortar and insulating boards. Asbestos was also incorporated into pipe covering, insulating cement and block insulation, which insulated pipes and machinery at the plant. Laborers who worked in the vicinity of where these products were applied, removed or disturbed were at risk for asbestos exposure and at risk for developing mesothelioma or lung cancer. Additionally, South Buffalo Railway employees who worked near the coke ovens were exposed to coke oven emissions. Exposure to coke oven emissions is a cause of lung, skin and other cancers.
In the process of representing workers and their families, we have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos-containing products to which our clients were exposed. 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 on the South Buffalo Railway in Lackawanna, New York and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.