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Crucible Steel in Syracuse, New York

crucible steel

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Author:Richard King 
Licensed under creative commons

Crucible Industries, formerly named Crucible Steel, is a metal and materials manufacturer producing steel in the U.S. for over a century. The company makes a diverse line of alloys and other materials. It is best known for pioneering the mass production of a specialized, high-quality type of tool steel known as “crucible steel.” Crucible has been part of the Syracuse community since one of Crucible’s premerger companies, Sanderson Brothers Steel, began moving its production operations to the city from Great Britain in 1876. The foundry it established became a major source of employment in Syracuse and employed many residents in both the city and surrounding community.

The use of asbestos at Crucible Steel is well documented and affected several of the mill’s former employees. Prior to the 1980s, asbestos was used in many industrial applications, such as insulation, fire brick, fireproofing and construction materials. However, asbestos was known as a harmful substance as far back as the 1920s, and alternative materials were available. Despite this, companies made and sold asbestos materials, components and equipment. These companies never warned the public its products were toxic, and as a result, many people have developed mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases.

Belluck & Fox, LLP, has represented laborers who worked at International Paper in Corinth. It has records regarding Crucible Steel in its library, including maps, photographs and documents that show the purchase of asbestos products from a number of companies. These companies never warned people asbestos products were dangerous. Many workers – including former employees of Crucible Steel – are being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

 Corporate History

In 1776, the Naylor and Sanderson Steel Mill was established in Sheffield, England and produced high-quality tool steel using the crucible method. The company was known as Sanderson Brothers and operated its business out of this English steel mill for a century. As time went on, however, the demand for Sanderson’s products in the growing American market exceeded that of its home country. To capitalize on this, it bought the Sweet Iron Works in Syracuse, New York, located between Erie Boulevard and West Fayette Street and moved production of its specialized steel to the new facility. In 1900, Sanderson Brothers brokered a deal between itself and a dozen other steel producers working in the crucible method to create the company known as Crucible Steel.

Following the merger, the company steadily expanded its production and output and provided high-quality crucible steel on a mass scale for sale to turn of the century manufacturers. Crucible has secured over 1,000 patents over the years and was an innovator in powder metallurgy throughout the twentieth century.

 Asbestos Use at Crucible Steel

Located less than two miles outside of Syracuse, the Crucible mill is on a 65-acre plot of land on the west side of Lake Onondaga. Prior to the 1980s, this mill used a significant amount of asbestos throughout the facility. Workers of all types were affected by asbestos because it was used in a wide variety of applications at Crucible Steel. Regular repair and maintenance of asbestos equipment and materials released asbestos fibers into the air of the plant. These fibers were inhaled or ingested by the workers at the plant, putting them at risk of developing mesothelioma and other deadly cancers.

The foundry was the main workspace at Crucible Steel and was the site where raw iron and other materials were melted and cast. This area used many kinds of equipment exposed to high levels of heat, such as the various furnaces used in steelmaking. Crucible Steel was the first company to use an electric arc melting furnace for producing commercial steel. These furnaces used asbestos insulation. Hot Tops, vessels for removing impurities from cooling steel, were made using asbestos.

Another area where workers were exposed to asbestos was the boiler house. This area holds the boilers used to provide heat and hot water to the steel mill. The boilers are large vessels insulated with asbestos on the outside and contained asbestos block within. These are connected to turbines using asbestos gaskets, which are rotors that convert steam into energy. These turbines used asbestos insulation and gaskets.

Boilers were attached to a network of pumps, valves and pipes that delivered hot water and steam throughout the plant. Many of the pipes at Crucible Steel were insulated with asbestos, and the pumps and valves used asbestos parts and insulation. Asbestos gaskets and packing were used to create tight seals on this equipment, wherever metals needed to be joined together. When these were under repair or maintenance, the asbestos needed to be scraped and wire brushed, then reapplied, creating asbestos dust. Gaskets needed to be cut to form, which would release fibers into the air. Asbestos cement had to be mixed from a dry powder. When water came into contact with the raw asbestos powder, millions of asbestos particles became airborne. This cement was often applied with bare hands.

Construction projects exposed many employees of the plant to asbestos, as well as to hired contractors. Many of the materials used in the buildings were made from asbestos. Insulation, tiles, fireproofing spray and drywall were all commonly made from asbestos. Any construction or demolition work performed in areas utilizing asbestos building materials would release large amounts of asbestos into the air. Because asbestos dust has a tendency to stick to hair, clothes and skin, families of exposed workers were also in danger. Second-hand exposure to asbestos, known as take-home exposure, has resulted in cases of mesothelioma developing in family members never directly exposed to asbestos at work.

 Were You Exposed to Asbestos? 

Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos. Although asbestos was a known harmful substance, asbestos was used in products sold without warnings or safety instructions. Former Crucible Steel employees who have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases have the right to seek compensation. Settlements obtained can pay for treatment of the disease and protect families from financial hardship. Act quickly after being diagnosed with an asbestos disease because the law limits the time to bring a claim.

Mesothelioma victims need to hire attorneys who are familiar with asbestos cases — lawyers who have successfully taken on the asbestos manufacturers and know the ways in which people were exposed. The attorneys at Belluck & Fox have won over $500 million from corporations that sold asbestos products to consumers and industry and have represented laborers who were exposed to asbestos while working at Crucible Steel’s foundries. It knows the Crucible Steel site and already has documents and research regarding the use of asbestos at Crucible.

The asbestos attorneys at Belluck & Fox make every effort to address our clients’ specific needs. We know the strain that battling mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases can place on your life, so our experienced mesothelioma lawyers can make accommodations to meet with you in your home, and will handle all the work on your case, rather than referring you to another law firm. There is no financial risk in retaining our services; we only receive payment if we recover money for you and your family.  Our offices can be reached at 1-877-637-6843 or through our online contact form.


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Syracuse, NY