Garlock Sealing Technologies Company History
Garlock Sealing Technologies is a leading manufacturer of high-performance fluid sealing products for use in processing industries. The company’s roots go back more than a century to Olin J. Garlock, who in the late 1800s devised a more efficient way to seal piston rods in industrial steam engines. That invention led Garlock in 1887 to start Garlock Sealing Technologies in Palmyra, New York, where the company’s headquarters remain today.
Today Garlock has a global presence, running 15 facilities, employing more than 1,800 workers and supplying a distribution network that spans some 75 countries. Its products – including gaskets, compression packing, expansion joints and hydraulic components – are sold under brand names like Garlock, Blue-Gard, Gylon and Flexseal. These products are used in a wide variety of industries, including chemical processing, pulp and paper, power generation, semiconductor manufacturing, construction, food and beverage and waste treatment.
Garlock is a subsidiary of the North Carolina-based, publicly traded EnPro Industries.
Products Manufactured at Garlock Sealing Technologies that Contained Asbestos
For years, manufacturers of gaskets and other sealing products, including Garlock, used a naturally occurring mineral known as asbestos in their products. Asbestos, a mineral comprised of long, fibrous crystals that appear almost cotton-like in their raw state, helped make gaskets durable and resistant to high temperatures. And it wasn’t just sealing products – asbestos was used in numerous products starting in the late 1800s, around the time of the Industrial Revolution. Manufacturers turned to the mineral because of its strength, versatility and for its excellent heat- and fire-resistant properties, and because it was relatively inexpensive.
It wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s – after workers had unknowingly been working with asbestos for decades – that the public began to realize that exposure to asbestos products could cause permanent and irreparable health problems. We now know that when asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in a person’s lung tissue and, years later, cause respiratory diseases like mesothelioma, an inoperable type of lung cancer.
Until as late as 2000, Garlock made a wide variety of asbestos-containing heat specialty products, most notably gaskets and packing materials. Some products manufactured by Garlock that are known to have contained asbestos include:
- Garlock Compressed Asbestos Sheet/Gasket
- Garlock Spiral Wound Gaskets
- Garlock Guardian Gaskets
- Garlock Chemiseal Jacketed Gaskets
- Garlock Pre-Cut Gasketing
- Garlock-200 High Pressure Ring Packing
- Garlock Plasti-Pak Packing
- Garlock Garfite 200 Graphite Filament Packing
- Garlock Plastallic Packings
- Garlock Lattice Braid Packings
- Garlock Insulation Tape
- Garlock Plasti-Thread Seal Tape
- Garlock 612 Asbestos Tape
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Garlock Sealing Technology products have been used in numerous industries, including oil refining, chemical processing, waste and water treatment, construction and transportation, and in power plants, shipyards and mining operations. Anyone who worked with the company’s asbestos-containing products in these industries or others could be at risk of being diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma cancer or asbestosis. Factory workers who worked with or near asbestos in Garlock’s plants prior to the year 2000 could also have been affected. And unfortunately, because asbestos dust is easily carried from place to place, family members of affected workers could also have had their health compromised by asbestos fibers brought home on dusty work clothes.
As a result of Garlock Sealing Technology’s use of asbestos in its products, the company was named as a defendant in more than 900,000 asbestos-related claims. In response, Garlock filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2000. In its filings, the company listed assets between $500 million and $1 billion and debts between $100 million and $500 million. EnPro Industries was not included in the bankruptcy case.
By June 2010, Garlock and its affiliates had paid $1.4 billion in settlements and judgments for asbestos-related lawsuits and $400 million on asbestos-related legal bills, according to an article by the Daily Bankruptcy Review. The company said it still has about 100,000 claims pending.
Garlock has said it stopped making products with asbestos, and no longer uses the mineral in its manufacturing.Sources
Garlock Sealing Technologies – Wikipedia
“Garlock Sealing Technologies to Supply Timken with Oil Seal”
EnPro Industries – Garlock
“Garlock Sealing Technologies Files for Bankruptcy Protection”