Hurlbut Paper Mill – South Lee, MA
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History of Hurlbut Paper Mill
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In 1806, Samuel Church built a paper mill along the Housatonic River to launch his paper production business. Church manufactured over 200 pounds of paper daily, concentrating mostly on book and notepad paper. The mill was purchased by Charles Owen and Thomas Hurlbut in 1822. The duo (which would later formally establish the Owens & Hurlbut Paper Company in 1836) recognized the high levels of production possible at the plant, and sought to improve on the high quantities of paper already made there. Their ultimate goal was to take their newly-acquired, high-performance facility and make it the crown jewel of a vision for a new company, on their path to achieve the highest quality of paper products in the country. Over the next 30 years, the mill became the biggest employer and main economic and development driver in the South Lee region, employing about 150 people by 1855.
Beginning in the 1860s, ownership of the mill changed multiple times over the next 150 years. Thomas Hurlbut’s sons took over operations shortly after his death in 1861. After a fire destroyed the mill in 1883, it was rebuilt on the same site, and became part of the American Writing Paper Company at the turn of the century. Paul Zuhlke purchased the mill in 1927, and the mill was ultimately purchased by the Mead Corporation in 1957. After a merger between Mead and Westvaco Corporation in 2002, the mill was included in the spinoff company called Onyx Specialty Papers in 2009. Over the course of these ownership changes, production of different products shifted as well. In the 200+ years of the mill’s existence, it has manufactured book, bond and letter, and note papers; photographic paper, saturating papers; paper found in decoration used for countertops and furniture; and many other products.
Asbestos Use at Hurlbut Paper Mill in South Lee, MA
In a facility as old as the Hurlbut Paper Mill, it can be expected that asbestos and various construction materials containing asbestos were used to build the structure. Most commonly in commercial buildings throughout the country, building products made with asbestos include cement, electrical wire, plumbing pipes, tile flooring, and both interior and exterior insulation. However, at paper mills including this one, the risk is compounded when considering the added dangers of asbestos’ presence in paper-making ingredients as well as machines used to manufacture its paper products
Since the paper-making process involves high levels of heat, the equipment and machinery required to create and maintain this energy had to be insulated. We now know the hazardous nature of asbestos, but before this information was widely known, asbestos was used as an effective and inexpensive insulator. Talc, an ingredient in paper-making during the refining and bleaching processes, could contain asbestos if they two happened to be naturally formed, mined, and processed together prior to use. Asbestos-laden felts, fabrics, and filters were used in equipment during the drying process, a critical step in high-volume paper production.
This combination of exposure to asbestos from building materials and components of production makes paper mills uniquely high-risk areas and thus potential breeding grounds for long-term health issues, including mesothelioma.
Our Top-Rated Asbestos Attorneys Represent Hurlburt Paper Mill workers
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related illness due to asbestos exposure at Hurlbut Paper Mill in Massachusetts, you need to speak with an experienced asbestos lawyer as soon as possible.
At Belluck & Fox, our nationally recognized mesothelioma attorneys have extensive experience fighting for families and workers exposed to asbestos. We are proud to have secured more than $1 billion in compensation for asbestos victims and their families.
We are ready to help you. Contact us today to set up a free consultation. A partner at our law firm will personally call you to talk about the details of your case and explain your legal options. Our law firm does not charge (any legal fees upfront and we do not get paid unless and until we secure compensation for you.