Because of the natural resources found in Washington and Oregon, these states have been major players in the United States pulp and paper industry. Unfortunately, pulp and paper companies like Crown Zellerbach brought significant asbestos use to our area along with industrial growth and employment.
About Crown Zellerbach
The company had its roots in the 1868 formation of the Zellerbach Paper Company (then called A. Zellerbach) in San Francisco. A 1928 merger with the Crown Willamette Paper Company became the Crown Zellerbach Corporation. Through market growth and acquisitions, Crown Zellerbach grew to become a major player in pulp production and paper during the 20th century.
At one time, the company had some of the largest timber holdings in the western United States, second to Weyerhauser. In the 1960s, the company reported record earnings, and Crown Zellerbach produced nearly 2 million tons of paper products in 1963 alone.
Crown Zellerbach maintained many different mills during the height of operations, including many mills across the Pacific Northwest. These included a mill in Camas, Port Angeles and Wallua, Washington, as well as West Linn, Oregon. While the company has since sold its mills to other businesses, it was still a major employer in the area during most of the 20th century.
How were workers at Crown Zellerbach locations exposed to asbestos?
Unfortunately, Crown Zellerbach’s growth during the 20th century coincided with extensive use of asbestos in industrial settings, including paper mills. Asbestos was used in the construction of many different buildings, including components like insulation, cement, siding, shingles and floor tiles.
Because asbestos is heat resistant, asbestos insulation was used in much of the industrial equipment in pulp and paper mills, including the boilers, pumps, tanks, dryers and machinery. This material was also a significant component of the insulated pipes that transported hot water, pulp and other materials throughout the mill.
While asbestos use is strictly regulated today, many of these mills were built when asbestos use was common. As a result, the operations of a mill that contained asbestos put mill workers in frequent contact with this harmful substance. Installation, daily operations and maintenance on asbestos-containing machinery could easily release asbestos dust into the air where workers could breathe it into their lungs.
The long-lasting impact of asbestos exposure in paper mills
Workers exposed to asbestos may not realize the impact of their exposure for years or even decades. When they do develop health concerns, however, the outcome can be serious. Asbestos exposure can lead to lung diseases like asbestosis.
All forms of asbestos are also recognized as carcinogens, and asbestos exposure can lead to a variety of cancers including mesothelioma. Because of the amount of asbestos once used in paper mills, those who worked in pulp and paper mills during this time are at increased risk of cancer, especially those whose work involved maintenance.
What can workers exposed to asbestos do?
People who were exposed to asbestos when working in pulp and paper mills can take steps to seek justice and financial support. Experienced attorneys like the team at Bergman Draper Oslund Udo can help workers explore their legal options. The clients helped by Bergman Draper Oslund Udo have included a man diagnosed with mesothelioma after asbestos exposure in multiple workplaces, including a Crown Zellerbach location in Portland, Oregon. He was awarded a total of $1.4 million as a result of this exposure.
With the right legal strategy, people exposed to asbestos while working at Crown Zellerbach mills or in other industries can pursue necessary financial support.