The W. Averell Harriman State Office Building Campus was constructed during the 1950s and 1960s in order to provide office space for various departments of the New York State government. Located between Washington and Western Avenues in Albany, New York, the State Campus consists of fifteen buildings on 330 acres of land, and it hosts several state agencies, including the New York State Police Academy, State Police Headquarters, State Emergency Management Office, Department of Labor and Department of Correctional Services. In recent years, the New York State government has moved some state offices out of the State Campus and into downtown Albany. Some vacant buildings were demolished, while others were taken over by private companies. Currently, around 7,000 state employees work at the State Campus.
Up until the late 1970s, asbestos-containing joint compound, fireproof insulation, block insulation, pipe covering, insulating cement, packing material and gaskets were used in maintenance procedures at the Harriman State Office Building Campus. Workers who handled asbestos-containing materials are at risk for developing mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Fireproof insulation was applied to the structural steel of the buildings at the Harriman State Office Building campus in order to protect the steel from potential fire damage. Fireproofing was packaged in heavy paper bags, and it contained a dry mixture of asbestos, cement and linen. Fireproofing material was poured into a machine, mixed with water and sprayed onto structural steel using a hose. Mixing and spraying fireproof insulation emitted clouds of asbestos dust and fibers into the air. Pipefitters and electricians typically disturbed the fireproofing after it was applied in order to install pipes or conduits. When fireproofing material was disturbed, asbestos dust was emitted, which workers inhaled.
Drywall finishers also utilized asbestos-containing joint compound at the State Campus in order to fill seams between sheets of drywall. Joint compound “mud” was manufactured as a dry mix or ready-mix. After the mud was applied to a wall’s surface and dried, it was sanded down to a smooth surface, which caused asbestos dust to become airborne.
Steam was used to heat the buildings at the State Campus. The Campus Power Plant in Building 17 provided steam heat to all the buildings throughout the State Campus. Boilers, pipes, valves and pumps within the steam system were covered with asbestos-containing insulation. During maintenance procedures, workers removed asbestos insulation in order to access equipment within the system. New asbestos insulation was applied after the maintenance or repairs took place. Applying and removing asbestos-containing insulation caused asbestos dust and fibers to become airborne.
Asbestos-containing gaskets were used in pipe systems at the Harriman State Office Building Campus to ensure a proper seal between pipe flanges, valves or pumps. Gaskets were fabricated from sheets of asbestos-containing gasket material. When a gasket was replaced, it was scraped off its flange. Cutting and removing gaskets released asbestos dust and fibers, which workers inhaled.
Workers also utilized asbestos-containing packing material to prevent leaks from pump shafts and valve stems. Packing material was commonly removed from pump and valve glands using a tool called a packing puller. Workers cut and manipulated new packing material to fit the diameter of the stem or shaft. Removing and installing packing material emitted asbestos dust and fibers into the air.
Many union and non-union laborers who worked on the construction of the Harriman State Office Building Campus were employed by various contractors throughout the Capital District. If you or a loved one were once employed as a laborer at the Harriman State Office Building Campus in Albany, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.