St. Regis Paper was established in 1899 by George Sherman and David Anderson. In 1901, construction of a mill in Deferiet, New York, was completed. The Village of Deferiet was also built by St. Regis to serve as a company town for the mill’s employees. During its peak production years in the mid-20th Century, the mill employed around 900 people. St. Regis manufactured several different types of paper at its Deferiet mill, but its main product through most of the mill’s existence was newsprint. In 1984, the mill was acquired by Champion-International. After fifteen years of slowing business and layoffs, Champion sold the mill to the Deferiet Paper Company. The mill closed in 2004, and in 2011, it was demolished.
Prior to the mid to late 1970s, boilers and associated steam and water pipes at the St. Regis Paper plant were covered with asbestos-containing block insulation, pipe covering and insulating cement. Asbestos-containing gaskets and packing material were also utilized within valves, pumps and flanges that were associated with steam and chemical systems. 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.
Steam was used during manufacturing processes, and it was also used to heat buildings throughout the facility. A network of pipes delivered steam to radiators and manufacturing equipment. Boilers, pumps, valves and pipes were covered in asbestos-containing insulation. Workers who performed maintenance within the steam system removed asbestos insulation in order to gain access to the equipment. When these procedures were completed, new insulation was applied. The process of removing and applying asbestos insulation to equipment in the steam system caused asbestos-containing dust to become airborne.
In order to prevent leaks, pump shafts and valve stems within the steam system were wrapped with asbestos-containing packing material. During maintenance procedures, workers pulled worn packing material out of the pump or valve using a corkscrew-like device called a packing puller. New asbestos packing material was then cut to the proper length and installed. Removing and applying asbestos-containing materials gave rise to high levels of asbestos-containing dust, which workers inhaled.
Workers at St. Regis utilized asbestos-containing gaskets in order to ensure a tight seal between flanges on pipes, pumps and valves. Gaskets were fabricated from large sheets of asbestos-containing material. Cutting gasket material emitted asbestos fibers into the air. During maintenance procedures within pipe systems, valves and pumps, gaskets were removed and replaced. Scraping or removing gaskets also emitted asbestos-containing dust.
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 at the St. Regis Paper Company mill in Deferiet, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.