Riley Stoker Corporation Company History
Founded in 1890, Riley Stoker Corporation was a Worchester, Massachusetts-based manufacturer of industrial boilers. The company was previously owned by Ashland Inc., a Fortune 500 chemical distribution company, but Ashland sold the company in 1990. Today, Riley Stoker Corporation is known as Riley Power and is a subsidiary of Babcock Power Inc., a privately owned energy and environmental services company with projects in more than 10 countries.
At its manufacturing plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, Riley Power continues to design and manufacture fuel-firing and steam generators for fossil fuel and waste fuel-fired plants, as well as boilers, stokers, pulverizers and replacement parts. Its products are used by utility companies, pulp and paper mills, petrochemical plants, waste-to-energy processing, and other industries.
Products Manufactured by Riley Stoker Corporation that Contained Asbestos
Boilers are vessels, usually made of steel, in which water or other fluids are heated and contained. The resulting steam can be used to run an engine or turbine or to provide heat. In the process, a large amount of heat is let off, so boilers need to be built in order to withstand very high temperatures.
This is where, for years, asbestos came in: Boiler manufacturers learned that there were benefits to incorporating the fibers from this naturally occurring mineral into their products. A natural insulator and fire-proofer, asbestos was used in boiler parts like gaskets, packing and insulation to help them withstand heat. In that regard, asbestos worked – perhaps too well. By the mid-1900s, the mineral was being shipped in huge quantities to the U.S., where it was added to not just boiler components, but everything from pumps to wallpaper to fireproof curtains.
Unfortunately, the workers and consumers handling asbestos products every day were unaware that the materials they were working with could give them cancer and other ailments. By the 1970s, though, the public had learned that airborne asbestos particles, when inhaled, can make breathing difficult and cause permanent and debilitating diseases like asbestosis, a chronic inflammation of the lungs, and mesothelioma, a formerly rare type of cancer in the lungs or abdominal cavity caused by asbestos exposure.
Riley Stoker Corporation didn’t make asbestos products itself, but it did use asbestos-containing components from other companies in its boilers and other products. Products associated with Riker Stoker Corporation that may have contained asbestos include, but are not limited to:
- Union Iron Works Boilers
- Heat Exchangers
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos products are most harmful at two points – when they are first manufactured, at which point raw asbestos fibers may be released into the air, and when they age and crack, again releasing harmful asbestos dust. That means risk exists for both factory workers involved in making the products and those charged with maintaining them over the course of their life spans. Boilermakers – workers who fit, repair or maintain boilers – were often exposed to Riley Stoker’s asbestos-containing products throughout the course of their work, especially since they were often required to install pieces of asbestos insulation – a process that required cutting and filing and released a great amount of dust. Also at risk were custodians, handymen, technicians, and various workers in power plants, oil refineries, paper mills, and other companies that purchased Riley Stoker boilers before asbestos was phased out in the 1970s.
Mesothelioma can remain dormant for a very long time; in some cases, it takes as long as 50 years after asbestos exposure for a person to realize they’re sick. If you think you or a loved one may have been exposed, take the time to learn about the risk factors and treatment options.
Thousands of people have filed lawsuits against Riley Stoker Corporation, as well as its former parent company Ashland Inc., because of the company’s use of asbestos in boilers. Plaintiffs say their health, or the health of a loved one, was compromised because of exposure to toxic asbestos in Riley Stoker boilers or other products. In 2007, company officials said there were an estimated 46,300 active lawsuits pending against the company.Sources
Ashland Inc. – 2007 Annual Report