Metalclad Insulation Company History
Established in 1933 in Torrance, California, Metalclad Insulation makes and installs insulation and fireproofing materials for the HVAC, plumbing, public works and other industrial and commercial sectors. The company also handles the removal of asbestos, lead, mold and other hazardous materials from commercial and industrial buildings.
Metalclad was a pioneer in metal-protected panel and pipe insulation systems, and has designed and manufactured specialty insulation for a variety of uses in the petrochemical, aircraft, marine, air pollution control, noise control, nuclear power and other fields. Today, the company is based in the city of Fullerton in southern California.
Products Manufactured by Metalclad Insulation that Contained Asbestos
Like many other insulation makers, Metalclad’s insulation contained asbestos – a silicate mineral found in huge deposits in nature that became wildly popular with manufacturers during the 20th century. Asbestos’ natural strength, heat-resistance and fireproofing qualities made it a huge hit with manufacturers, who added the minerals long, stringy fibers to everything from insulation to floor tiles to oven mitts.
But as the decades wore on, more and more people who worked with asbestos began falling ill. It was eventually discovered that exposure to asbestos can cause extremely serious, even fatal lung afflictions such as asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer. These diseases are caused when microscopic asbestos particles, originating from products like Metalclad’s insulation, are released into the air and inhaled into a person’s lungs. This dust is generally released only when the products begin to age and break down, or in the case of insulation, when it is manufactured, installed or torn down.
One of the industries that purchased huge amounts of Metalclad’s insulation products was the U.S. military. In the 1960s and 1970s, during the Vietnam War, Metalclad supplied large quantities of pipe covering, block insulation, insulation cement and asbestos cloth to U.S. Navy shipyards for use on pipes and boilers aboard naval vessels.
Metalclad stopped making products with asbestos in 1973, but evidence presented in one lawsuit stated that Metalclad sold asbestos-containing products even after they knew they were hazardous to people’s health. In 1972, after asbestos thermal insulation was discontinued, the company sold its existing inventory for a profit “despite the fact that non-asbestos substitutes were available through manufacturers,” a lawsuit states.
Products manufactured by Metalclad Insulation that contained asbestos include, but are not limited to:
- Unibestos Pipe Insulation
- Pipe Covering
- Block Insulation
- Insulation Cement
- Asbestos Cloth
- Valve Insulation Pads
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Metalclad’s asbestos-containing insulation products were sold for use in a variety of industries, so unfortunately many people could have been exposed to the toxic products. People who may have been put at risk include insulation contractors, welders and janitors working in fields like heating/air-conditioning, public works or power plants – virtually anyone who worked with or near Metalclad’s asbestos-containing insulation could have been put at risk.
But the largest group of people who were exposed to Metalclad’s asbestos products was those in the military, especially the U.S. Navy. One Navyman recalls spending two months in the late 1960s dry-docked at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for a major overhaul project, during which old insulation was torn out of the ship. The man, a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Metalclad, recalls that workers used saws to cut the insulation off the pipes, and that the entire area “look(ed) like a snowstorm.”
As of April 2011, Metalclad Insulation had been named as a defendant or co-defendant in numerous asbestos-related lawsuits. Plaintiffs in these cases allege that their health, or the health of a loved one, was compromised by exposure to asbestos in the company’s insulation products.