The Babcock & Wilcox Company was incorporated in 1881, offering best-in-class boilers to a burgeoning U.S. market. Their patented design featured larger heating surfaces, increased water circulation, and improved safety over competing boilers. Their boilers powered the first central electrical generating station in the United States and the first subway in New York City.
Demand for their product continued to increase, and in the 1920s Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) began to develop larger boilers and water-cooled furnaces. They also pioneered the use of pulverized coal as a fuel. Their innovation continued with integral furnace boilers, the Kraft recovery boiler, radiant boilers and the open-pass boiler. In 1935, they introduced the first "black liquor" recovery boiler. In the late 1940s, they introduced the "package boiler," which could be built at a central facility and later installed at a customer's site. In 1957, B&W unveiled a highly efficient coal-fired Universal Pressure Boiler.
Over the years, B&W expanded their business operations to other industrializing countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey and Egypt. Their background in steam-generating boilers and refractory products paved the way for later moves into nuclear power heat exchangers and steam generators. Today, the company continues to operate all over the world as an operating unit of McDermott International.
Products Manufactured by the Babcock & Wilcox Company that Contained Asbestos
Asbestos is a lightweight, heat and fire-resistant mineral that occurs naturally in the environment. Babcock & Wilcox used asbestos in their steam generating boiler and refractory products as early as the late 19th century. They employed asbestos insulation in their industrial, utility and marine boiler systems to protect people and equipment from high temperatures. As the use of asbestos was defined and even encouraged by U.S. government agencies at that time, it is safe to presume that the overwhelming majority of B&W boilers contained asbestos insulation. Babcock & Wilcox phased out the use of asbestos beginning in the 1970s, when the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) tightened the threshold for asbestos use after its dangers were more fully understood. Provided below is a list of Babcock & Wilcox asbestos containing products:
- Babcock & Wilcox Company Stirling Boiler
- Babcock & Wilcox Gauges
- Babcock & Wilcox Marine Boilers
- Babcock & Wilcox FJ Furnace Boilers
- Babcock & Wilcox Integral Furnace Boilers
- Babcock & Wilcox Type E Pulverizers
- Babcock & Wilcox Steam-Generating Boiler Products
- Babcock & Wilcox Insulating Firebrick
Industries and Occupations Where Asbestos Exposure May Have Occurred
Babcock & Wilcox steam generating boilers were popular due to their innovative features and best-in-class performance. They were used in power plants, manufacturing facilities, ships, refineries, and a variety of other industrial applications. Anyone who worked with or around B&W boilers is potentially at risk for developing asbestos cancer such as pleural mesothelioma.
The companies and industries where workers were mostly likely to be exposed to asbestos from Babcock & Wilcox boiler and refractory products include the aerospace / aviation industry, the asbestos mining industry, asbestos products manufacturing, chemical industries, construction companies, insulation manufacturers, iron & steel production companies, Longshore, Maritime and Military Installations, shipyard construction and repair facilities and utility companies.
Workers in a wide variety of occupations were at risk for inhaling harmful asbestos fibers. Boilermakers, shipbuilders, electricians, boilertenders, plumbers, steamfitters and power plant workers were most likely to be exposed to Babcock & Wilcox products containing asbestos. Workers in both hands-on and supervisory roles could be affected because in the process of installing, repairing and maintaining B&W boilers asbestos fibers would become airborne putting anyone in the area at risk for inhaling them.
Recent News Regarding the Babcock & Wilcox Asbestos Trust
Workers who developed mesothelioma as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos from Babcock & Wilcox boilers may be entitled to compensation through the Babcock & Wilcox Asbestos Trust. This compensation can also extend to family members that may have received second hand exposure from asbestos fibers that came home on worker's clothes.
As more and more instances of mesothelioma cancer from exposure to Babcock & Wilcox asbestos containing products were identified, a flurry of legal were complaints brought against B&W. To protect their interests and to alleviate escalating legal expenses, the Babcock & Wilcox Company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on February 22, 2000. Part of the resultant reorganization plan for emerging from bankruptcy included the creation of an Asbestos Trust that was developed to handle the malignant mesothelioma related claims that B&W is legally responsible for.
The Babcock & Wilcox Asbestos Trust was formed in 2006. The trust is organized to pay all valid asbestos personal injury claims. Mesothelioma attorneys are currently filing claims with the Babcock & Wilcox Asbestos Trust on behalf of individuals who have developed (or have the potential to develop) mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from B&W boilers and refractory products.