If you have worked and lived in Oregon for a significant amount of time, there is a chance that you were exposed to asbestos at home or in the workplace. Prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to serious health problems including pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer. As a service to people who live in Oregon, we have compiled the following information about asbestos and mesothelioma in the state.
From 1999 – 2015, 716 Oregon residents died from mesothelioma
Oregon has a high mesothelioma mortality rate of about 11 people per million annually (Source: CDC)
Oregon has 22 known sites that contain asbestos, including 12 natural deposits and 3 former asbestos mines (Source: USGS)
Multnomah and Clackamas counties in Oregon had the most asbestos-related deaths in the state from 1999 – 2013 (Source: CDC)
02. Asbestos in Workplaces
Asbestos Exposure in Oregon Workplaces
Beyond the natural asbestos and former mines that increase residents’ risk of exposure, workers in many industries in Oregon faced asbestos on the job.
As a coastal state, Oregon became a prime location for many shipyards. Albina Shipyards, Dyer Shipyard and Willamette Shipyard only illustrate a handful of these businesses that could be found along the coastline. Shipyard workers, however, are among the most at risk for mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease because of the heavy use of asbestos on various ships through the 1970s.
Asbestos was a miracle mineral for many industries, including chemical plants. The mineral’s resistance to heat and most chemical reactions made it seemingly perfect to use in the construction of these plants and within the machinery workers used. Borden Chemical Plant and Rhone-Poulenc Chemical Plant made various chemicals and were known to have asbestos in their construction to prevent fires.
Even in a digital age, paper is an important part of American industry and the nation’s lives. Paper and lumber mills can be found throughout Oregon and play a big role in the state’s economy. Similar to chemical plants, these operations also relied on asbestos in the building materials used and for their equipment. Many paper mills in Oregon have documented the presence of asbestos, including St. Helens Pulp and Paper Company in Saint Helens and Willamette Paper Mill in Albany.
Companies like the General Supply Company or Oregon Sugar Company reside in older buildings that used asbestos products throughout the construction process. Asbestos was so abundant through the 1980s that the mineral was almost unavoidable in buildings, including schools and homes. Its extensive use in construction and within various equipment put workers in these plants at a higher risk of exposure.
As a coastal state, Oregon saw many shipyards pop up, especially in the Portland area. Oregon also has various sites included on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list, including one with asbestos hazards.
North Ridge Estates
The North Ridge Estates are part of a residential area that became contaminated with asbestos after military barracks from the 1940s were demolished without proper precaution. Old military buildings like these were known to often contain asbestos materials because it was inexpensive and could be used for a variety of applications. This site near Klamath Falls was added to the Superfund List in 2011 after annual efforts to remediate the contamination were proving ineffective for the long term. Remedial cleanup began in July 2016, and will continue for at least several more seasons to remove remaining asbestos-containing materials and contaminated soil.
Also referred to as the Portland Ship Repair Yard, the shipyard in Portland has often been referred to as one of the most extensive construction and repair facilities on the West Coast. The shipyard stretches over 60 acres of land and is home to the largest drydock in the nation, which also means the shipyard has employed thousands of workers over its years of operation. Asbestos was often used on ships, and could easily be disturbed during such repair projects. Though asbestos is no longer relied on today, workers employed through the mid-1970s or working on older ships potentially faced exposure. The Portland Shipyard is still operating today, though it is now owned by the Cascade General.
Over time, Cascade General acquired many of the shipyards in Oregon, including the Portland Shipyard, Astoria Voyage Repair Station, and Swan Island Shipyard. Today, the shipyard operates on over 60 acres of land with a large workforce. The shipyard was founded during World War II to help meet the needs for ship repairs and construction of vessels for the U.S. Marines. At this time and for decades after, the shipyard relied on asbestos-containing materials in the building and repair of these ships, as well as in the equipment they used for their work.
04. Exposure in Cities
Oregon Cities with Asbestos Problems
Provided below is a list of cities in the state of Oregon where asbestos use in the workplace is known to have occurred. Click on a city below to see more detailed information about the specific job sites where asbestos exposure occurred.
Workplace asbestos exposure is also a concern if one looks beyond the major cities and towns in Oregon. Select a town below to see the list of its job sites known to have exposed workers to asbestos. Asbestos exposure at any one of the job sites revealed could have placed a worker at risk to develop mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.
Oregon Directory of Asbestos Work Sites
Select a city to see a list of work sites where asbestos exposure occurred.