Resources for Patients and their Families

Cascade General

Located in the vast Portland Shipyard area, the largest ship repair facility on the West Coast, the Cascade General Shipyard is a 60-acre facility which is connected to the Pacific Ocean by the Columbia-Willamette shipping channel. The facility offers sheltered berths in a salt-free environment.

Founded in 1942 to meet the needs of World War II, the shipyard continues to provide state-of-the-art repairs and construction of many types of marine vessels. Cascade General has access to a vast equipment inventory, as well as its huge dry dock facilities, covered craft shops, massive cranes, and treatment plant.

The yard also enjoys a strong connection with the Alaskan shipping industry, resulting in a healthy workload from visiting cruise lines that make Alaska part of their regular itinerary, as well as ships involved in the transport of Alaskan oil, fishing trawlers, and the ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway Department. The shipyard also counts among its regular clientele, cable-laying ships, Corps of Engineer’ dredges, tugs and barges.

In addition to repair and reconstruction, the Cascade General Shipyard offers restoration services, including painting, blasting, industrial coating, and precision layering.

Like other shipyards founded prior to the mid 1970s, Cascade General used a wide variety of repair and marine construction materials which were composed largely of asbestos. This silica-based, fibrous mineral is highly heat- and corrosion-resistant, as well as being flexible and strong, making it a seemingly ideal material for the fabrication and manufacture of marine-related components. As a result, the material was heavily used in many components, including gaskets, valves and valve covers, electrical and propulsion systems, pumps, marine coatings, and nearly every gasket used in marine work.

Although it appeared the perfect solution for all of these applications, by the mid 1970s, experts had uncovered the serious health risks associated with the exposure to asbestos. Federal legislators reacted by outlawing the use of asbestos in the manufacture of these marine products.

Of course, for those who had been exposed to asbestos, the legislation was too late. Once inhaled, these tiny fibers cause irreparable damage to the lungs and other organs, and can result in the development of potentially deadly conditions such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

The symptoms of malignant mesothelioma can take many eyars to become evident. Although there is no cure for asbestos-related conditions, individuals who worked for Cascade General would be well advised to speak to their physician about the possible risks associated with asbestos exposure as mesothelioma navy cases are most common.

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