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Located near the city of Glens Falls, New York, the town of Queensbury was once home to the Hercules manufacturing plant. This factory was then bought by Ciba-Geigy. It was an important source of employment for these Warren County communities for nearly a century. Originally built by the Imperial Color Company, ownership of the plant changed hands several times before shutting down production in 1989.
Before it closed, the Queensbury plant was a known site of asbestos exposure, and several former employees have become victims of mesothelioma – a deadly cancer caused by asbestos. Much of the equipment and many materials found throughout the factory were made using asbestos prior to 1990. The companies that manufactured and sold asbestos products to Hercules were often aware of the harm caused by asbestos, but did nothing to warn the public about these hazards.
Belluck & Fox, LLP, has previously represented workers at Hercules and is familiar with the use of asbestos at the plant.
In 1915, the Queensbury pigment factory was founded to produce synthetic organic pigment for the Imperial Wall Paper Company. It became known as the Imperial Color Works plant. During this time, the factory became known for the brightness of its colorings, which were produced as dry pigment and dyes. In 1929, the pigment business proved so successful that Imperial Wall Paper was reorganized and renamed as the Imperial Paper and Color Corporation. Over the next several decades, the company became the top provider of pigment in the United States.
The company was purchased in 1960 by the Hercules Powder Corporation, along with the Queensbury factory and all assets within. At this time, sales were approaching $30 million annually. Hercules, seeing the success of the mill’s pigment business, sold the wallpaper division in 1962, including the associated paper and pulp mills. By 1965, the company was producing a full line of sixty pigments.
In 1979, with sales above $100 million per year and a payroll supporting nearly 1200 employees, the company and its Queensbury plant were sold to Ciba-Geigy. The plant ceased operations in 1989.
Asbestos Use at Ciba-Geigy
Much of the equipment and materials in use at the Hercules / Ciba-Geigy Queensbury plant contained asbestos. Laborers, skilled machine operators, plumbers, electricians, millwrights, chemists, and pipefitters were exposed to asbestos at the plant.
The plant was situated on a roughly sixty acre plot of land bordered by the Glens Falls feeder canal to the north and the Hudson River to the south. The complex consisted of nearly two-dozen buildings, and employed nearly 1,200 workers at its height of production. At one point, both a paper mill and a pigment manufacturer, the mill contained a diverse array of shops and production facilities. Large boilers would provide heat and hot water to the plant. The boilers were lined with asbestos refractory. When repairs needed to be made on these boilers, asbestos needed to be scraped off, wire brushed, and then replaced with fresh asbestos. The asbestos cement usually came as a powder, which would release asbestos dust when agitated or mixed with water.
To transport fluids and monitor temperatures, these boilers were attached to a number of gauges, pipes, pumps, and valves using asbestos gaskets and packing. Gaskets are cut to shape from a large sheet of asbestos, a process that would release breathable asbestos fibers. These had to be scraped and wire brushed to remove them from the metal ends, then reapplied with a fresh-cut gasket. Packing needed to be removed with special hooks when the pumps and valves required maintenance, which exposed the workers to friable asbestos. The plant also had vessels and tanks covered in asbestos.
Pipes carried hot water and steam throughout the plant. These pipes were covered with asbestos insulation. The flow through these pipes was controlled by more pumps and valves. These also used asbestos gaskets and packing.
A number of building materials were also made from asbestos. Much of the drywall and wall insulation in the plant were made from asbestos, as were tiles used on the floors and walls.
Families of these factory workers were also at risk. In what’s known as “take-home” exposure, asbestos dust settles on the clothing, shoes, skin, and hair of factory workers, who unknowingly carry this back to their homes at the end of the day. Laundry and changing clothes releases the loose asbestos fibers from the fabric and body, contaminating these worker’s homes.
Diagnosed With Mesothelioma? Help is Available.
Mesothelioma is only caused by asbestos. Although it was a known harmful substance, asbestos was used in products sold without warnings or safety instructions. This means that former Ciba-Geigy and Hercules employees who have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases have the right to seek compensation. Settlements obtained for you and your family can pay for treatment of the disease, and protect your family from financial hardship. It is critical to 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 have handled lots of 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.
The asbestos attorneys at Belluck & Fox will make every effort to help you and your family. 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. It is also important to keep in mind that 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.
Imperial Color, Chemical and Paper Corporation
Glens Falls, New York
Accessed May 24, 2013
Documentation of Environmental Indicator Determination
Accessed May 24, 2013
ENB Region 5 Completed Applications 10/01/2008
Accessed May 24, 2013