Alameda Naval Air Station was originally established in 1927 as a civilian airport and harbor. The armed forces acquired the site in 1936. Planes loaded from Alameda took part in scouting missions after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The base is home to many of the planes who engaged the Japanese during Operation Dolittle. The base was closed in April of 1997 and declared a Superfund cleanup site in July of 1999. Not only is the site contaminated with serious industrial chemicals, it is also known to have made wide use of asbestos.
Asbestos is a fibrous material that, when inhaled, embeds itself in the lung tissue. The body attempts to remove the fibers, but overcompensates, leading to ongoing damage. Even small rates of exposure can have serious consequences, as the material never actually leaves the body. As scar tissue forms around it, the tissue can become malignant, causing lung cancer. A number of respiratory ailments are linked directly to asbestos. The most serious illness, however, is the cancer known as mesothelioma. This cancer begins on the outer lining of the lungs and usually spread to the lining of other organs. It is almost impossible to treat, as it exists in the chest cavity and not inside a specific organ.
Alameda Naval Air Station Asbestos in Housing Structures
The Navy is thought to have used asbestos as insulation in many of its housing structures on the base. When the base was first decommissioned, the Navy had planned to disclose asbestos use to potential new owners – thereby sidestepping the responsibility of cleaning it up. As part of the site’s Superfund status, however, they’ve been forced to identify problem areas and remedy them. It’s unfortunate that such measures were not required sixty years ago, as honourable and patriotic servicemen were living amid the dangerous materials.
Those who worked on or around the base may also have been exposed.
During World War II, construction at Alameda was fierce; the base was to house two carrier air wings, five seaplane squadrons, and two utility squadron. Later, an additional two hangers and an aircraft berth were constructed. These buildings, contracted out to civilians, may have required asbestos insulation as well. Because asbestos is such a dangerous substance, even light involvement with this site may have been enough to cause long-term damage. The symptoms of asbestos exposure can take decades to manifest.
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we may be able to help you get the justice you deserve. The United States military looked the other way while countless people were exposed to a dangerous material. When construction first began at Alameda, the threat of asbestos was already well understood. They may claim that it was a war time decision – a regrettable one, as war decisions often are – but the fact is that they took advantage of people who had already committed their lives to service. Be they soldiers or construction workers, they deserve justice.
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