Todd Pacific Shipyards acquired this facility in 1916. As the demand for navy vessels increased over the following decades, the shipbuilding business boomed. The yards at Swan Island, near Portland, Oregon, and those on Harbor Island were built during this period. Vigor Industrial purchased the Swan Island facility from the Port of Portland in 2000, and in 2011 acquired Todd Pacific, gaining control of both Todd Shipyard of Seattle and the Harbor Island facility. Vigor Industrial maintains ownership, vowing a commitment to strength and forward movement. The Todd Shipyard, also known as the SeaTac Shipyard, employed tradesmen from the Seattle metropolitan area – including nearby Tacoma.
From the time the Todd Shipyard opened, it was churning out tankers, ferries, and US Navy vessels. The larger ships demanded a significant workforce – plumbers, electricians, welders, insulators, brick masons, and so forth. All of them would have had some degree of asbestos exposure. The discovery of the link between asbestos and serious illness was made as early as 1930. Despite the yard’s knowledge of the dangers of asbestos, many workers were never informed the of the disastrous consequences it could have. Protective equipment was rarely offered.
Asbestos causes a wide range of respiratory ailments. Most significant is the cancer mesothelioma. The material is made of small fibers that, when inhaled, embed themselves in the tissue of the lungs. If the damage becomes severe enough, this can grow into an infection of the outer lining of the lungs and other organs. There is no cure for this form of cancer. Individuals often report a great deal of pain as the body’s tissues become saturated with fluid. Mesothelioma requires very little asbestos exposure, and may not manifest until years after the initial contact. If you or a loved one worked at the Todd Shipyard and later developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you may be able to hold employers accountable for their neglect.
As asbestos ages, the fibers that make up the material become brittle. This makes them more likely to shed unhealthy quantities of harmful dust. Many shipyards have reacted too late to the hazards of asbestos. The material is important to fire-proofing and insulation, meaning that it is still in use today. However, current regulations mandate the sort of protective equipment that should have been available all along. Manufacturers knew the dangers of the material – they were just more willing to sacrifice employees than profit.
The tight working conditions inside ships contribute to particle density. Combine this with a lack of proper ventilation and it’s easy to see how high levels of exposure can happen very quickly. Without effective respirators or other safety equipment, those workers were in a great deal of danger. Their employer knew it, and did nothing. More unsettling is that the workers inadvertently put their families at risk as well. Asbestos fibers in clothing could have been carried back home – posing a threat to spouses and children.
Asbestos is deadly. Unfiltered exposure to the material can lead to lung disease, different forms of lung cancer, including mesothelioma, and other respiratory ailment. Todd Shipyard made unwitting patriots out of its employees – trading their lives for US Navy equipment, and taking a little profit for themselves. If you or a loved one has developed any of these ailments, please contact us to discuss your legal options. You may not be able to change the past, but we can help secure the future for you and yours.