The Longview Fibre pulp processing and paper mill began operating in 1927. The acquisition of vast swaths of forestland helped the company grow from a single board planer and three hundred employees into a papermaking giant that employed tens of thousands. In 2007, Longview Fibre began laying off employees as a way to survive the receding economy. It was eventually sold to Brookfield Asset Management, which continued the trend of downsizing, relieving many of the business managers in the process. The downsizing process left many long-time Fibre employees without jobs, without degrees, and contributed significantly to the local depression of Longview’s economy. Lacking benefits, many of the former mill employees weren’t able to seek medical help when they started developing symptoms related to asbestos exposure.
Exposure to asbestos has been linked to lung disease, decreased respiratory capacity, and a rare form of cancer known as mesothelioma. The microfibers that make up asbestos insulation are easily inhaled. Once inside the lungs, they become embedded in the soft tissue, where they cause significant damage over time. Prolonged exposure can result in malformed and malignant tissue formation on the outer membranes of the lungs and other internal organs. From an early point, the potentially fatal properties of asbestos were understood. Despite knowing the danger, few companies went to proper lengths to remove asbestos or protect their employees. The current victims of these companies are finally standing up and claiming compensation for the neglect of the employers they trusted. This class of victims extends beyond immediate Fibre employees. Contracted maintenance and repair workers who went on to develop serious asbestos-related disease may also link their illness to the Longview Fibre plant.
The asbestos problem has been growing over the past two decades. Once the material was deemed carcinogenic and unsafe, one would think its widespread use would’ve seen some remediation. It ceased to be the go-to for fire retardant construction, which was a start, but the full-scale cleanup of asbestos didn’t begin until much later. The reasoning behind this is the assertion, by the industries who made greatest use of the material, that unless disturbed, asbestos would remain inert and relatively harmless. If that had been true, we would not be in the situation we are in. Asbestos-based materials become unstable as they age. The now dried and brittle fibers slough off and out of the original building materials and put workers in danger. What’s shocking is that the industrial machine didn’t simply phase out the material as it decayed. Instead, inexpensive asbestos materials were replaced with more asbestos. The decision demonstrates an unacceptable willingness to profit at the expense of employee health.
The asbestos diseases that require the most extreme treatments also require the lowest amount of exposure. This means that the industrial resistance to replacing aging and dangerous materials can be directly linked to the occurrence of mesothelioma. While the industries continue to downsize to adapt to a lagging economy, they’re also turning a blind eye to the problems they’ve created and perpetuated. Mesothelioma patients were exposed to asbestos by a combination of corner cutting, misinformation, and inaction on the part of their employers. The Longview Fibre plant is no different.
If you or a loved one was employed by Longview Fibre and later developed mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and personal injury. You and your family deserve justice. We are committed to helping you get it – contact us if you want to explore the legal options available to you.