Potlatch Corporation, Washington and Idaho
The Potlatch Lumber Company was established in 1903. In 1931, it merged with several other companies in the forestry industry and became Potlatch Forests Inc. By the 1950s, Potlatch had become an important producer of paperboard, a thick paper used for everything from paper plates to milk cartons. Although Potlatch moved its corporate headquarters to San Francisco in 1965, it maintained a strong presence in Lewiston Idaho, where spin off corporation Clearwater Paper continues to produce paper products. In 1997 Potlatch moved its headquarters back to the Northwest, settling in the city of Spokane, Washington. Now known as Potlatch Corporation, the company is better known today as a land holdings group than as a manufacturer of wood products.
During the mid-20th century when Potlatch manufactured products in Northwestern Idaho, asbestos was commonly used in a variety of industrial and building applications. Prized for its superior insulating ability and fire resistance, asbestos-containing insulation was often used around pipes, structural supports, and machinery. When damaged or exposed, this type of insulation is considered to be one of the most dangerous types of asbestos-containing materials, due to its friable nature. Asbestos is said to be friable when it crumbles easily or is reduced to a powder, creating tiny fibers which can be inhaled.
From the 1960s to the 80s, Armstrong Contracting and Supply (now known as ACandS) performed contract insulation work at a variety of industrial sites including Potlatch Forests Inc. Some of the insulation products they installed contained asbestos. By 2008, the company had been hit with so many claims for asbestos-related injury that it filed for bankruptcy and established the ACandS Asbestos trust, to provide compensation for those who had been harmed. Potlatch Forests Inc. of Spokane, WA is on the trust’s list of sites approved for settlement claims.
In 1994, Potlatch agreed to pay the Environmental Protection Agency a $250,000 fine for improper asbestos removal during a 1989-90 renovation of its Lewiston mill. The contractor who performed the asbestos removal was also fined $358,800, for the largest combined total settlement ever seen at that time in a Clean Air Act civil case involving asbestos removal in a renovation or demolition project. Based on the observations of an EPA inspector, the agency said that the defendants failed to comply with a number of federal rules on the appropriate removal and disposal of asbestos.
Exposure to inhaled asbestos fibers can have fatal consequences. Both employees and construction workers at Potlatch may have been exposed. If you or someone you love worked at Potlatch and is suffering due to asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Bergman Draper Oslund today, for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.