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Built along the bank of the Hudson River, a main pulp and paper mill of International Paper was located in Corinth, New York throughout the twentieth century. Thousands of workers from Saratoga County and the surrounding Capital District were employed at the plant during this period. International Paper also had a mill in Ticonderoga , New York. The Corinth mill actually predates the formation of International Paper, with paper production at the site dating back to 1869. When International Paper was incorporated three decades later, the Corinth mill became the company’s flagship factory due to the modern, high-quality equipment and processes at the plant. The location also housed International Paper’s corporate headquarters and offices. The plant ceased operations in 2002 due to unstable market conditions and changing corporate structure.
Asbestos was used throughout International Paper’s Corinth manufacturing plant. Belluck & Fox, LLP, has represented many International Paper workers. This means that we already have records of the asbestos used, including maps, photographs, and documents that show the purchase of asbestos products. These companies never warned the International Paper workers that their asbestos products were dangerous, even though asbestos was known to causes illnesses as far back as the 1920s. As a result, many former employees of International Paper are being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
International Paper is the world’s largest paper manufacturer, producing roughly four million metric tons annually. The company was incorporated in 1898 in Albany, New York, formed as a union of eighteen formerly separate pulp and paper mills from across the northeastern United States and Canada. Within just a few years, over sixty percent of all American newspapers were printed on International Paper newsprint. The company controlled all stages of the papermaking process. At one point, this made them the largest private owner of real estate in the USA, holding a total area of nearly 1.7 million acres of timberland.
In addition to newsprint and other paper, International Paper manufactures envelopes, packaging, shipping containers, and is currently the world leader in the production of plastic lids and paper cups for restaurants. The company has made a number of high-profile acquisitions of competitors, including Hammermill, Union Camp, and Champion, and continues to exist as a dominant force in the global paper industry.
Asbestos Use at International Paper in Corinth, NY
International Paper has deep roots in Corinth, New York. Over 1,450 people were on payroll at the height of production at the Corinth plant. Because papermaking typically involved the use of asbestos materials and equipment, the mill was a site of asbestos exposure for thousands of workers and their family members. Mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused illnesses have been diagnosed in a number of former employees of the Corinth mill. Most showed no sign of disease until years after they had already retired, due to the unusually long latency period of asbestos-related illnesses. These diseases typically do not appear until ten to fifty years after the initial exposure to asbestos
The Corinth mill consisted of over forty buildings located on a 300 acre plot of land at Corinth’s eastern edge, though most of the buildings were clustered in a fifty acre stretch at its northern tip. The property was situated along the southern bank of the Hudson River at what is currently the intersection of Pine and 6th Streets, just across the line dividing Saratoga and Warren counties. Asbestos was not confined to any one particular sector of the plant. Workers employed at the Corinth plant prior to the 1980s are at a high risk of developing mesothelioma.
A cluster of buildings at the northernmost pointof the property included paper mills , a boiler house, a groundwood mill, a coal plant, a shipping building, a beater room, and a coating plant. Further south on the property was a line of buildings that included an acid plant, a clay shed, offices, and various storage and tool houses.
Papermaking requires a great deal of energy throughout the process. The Corinth mill harnessed the vast power of the Hudson River by damming it, and it supplemented the power generated by this dam by maintaining an on-site coal power plant. Hydroelectric power from a dam is created by using the current of the river to spin large turbines, which converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy. Electrical components, including these turbines, were often made using asbestos. The plant’s on-site coal burning and boiler power plants also used asbestos insulation to line the boilers and furnaces. They used packing and gaskets made from asbestos to create seals. Pipes, pumps, and valves were often coated in asbestos insulation.
As these asbestos products aged, they wore down and became brittle. When the equipment using asbestos parts needed to be maintained or repaired, this asbestos was scraped off and wire brushed, reducing it to a dust of asbestos fibers. Workers then had to replace the asbestos by hand, unaware of the need to use safety gear. Dust was constantly being agitated by workers and machinery, which would cause it to become airborne. Workers would breathe this contaminated air, and also have the asbestos dust settle on their skin, hair, clothing, and shoes.
Paper begins as lumber. The raw lumber is cleared of bark, then ground by a machine known as a Keller-Voelter Grinder. At this point, it is mixed with water in a 99 to 1 ratio of water to wood. These particles of wood and cellulose intertwine into a solid mass as this slurry is passed over a moving mesh screen, becoming a wet pulp that is treated with chemicals such as acid and bleach. Vessels used to store caustic chemicals, including tanks, digesters, and bleachers, were often lined with asbestos.
After being treated and having much of the water removed, the ground wood pulp is processed through an extensive rolling and drying phase. This drying process involves heat and, like other areas of the plant where heat and moving machinery are found, asbestos was used as insulation, lining, and friction material. Rolling involved passing the wet paper through large, heavy cylinders covered in special cloth sheets known as “dryer felts.” These dryer felts were often made from asbestos cloth prior to the 1980s. As the dryer felts ran through the machinery, the fabric became stressed and worn from regular use. This would cause fibers from the cloth to release into the air.
When storing dry paper, fire is always a risk that needs to be addressed. Prior to the 1980s, the Corinth mill used asbestos materials for its insulation needs. Many kinds of building materials were made using asbestos for this purpose, including wall insulation, fireproofing spray, drywall, corrugated roofing shingles, and tile. Using these materials affected all workers, but employees of contractors were also at high risk. When renovations were undertaken at the plant, these asbestos building and fireproofing materials needed to be destroyed, resulting in crumbled asbestos in the air. No level of asbestos is safe.
Asbestos can settle on hair, clothing, skin, and shoes. International Paper workers were unknowingly contaminating their own living space with asbestos. The families of these workers were exposed as well.
Asbestos Products Made by International Paper
Champion, a company acquired by International Paper in the year 2000, distributed an asbestos-containing countertop product called Micarta, asbestos fire doors, and asbestos building materials. These products were sold by U.S. Plywood – a company by Champion. Despite the fact that the Hudson River Mill was not involved in the production or distribution of this product, International Paper inherited the responsibility to those injured by Micarta countertops when they purchased Champion.
Diagnosed With Mesothelioma? Help is Available.
Mesothelioma is only caused by asbestos. Although the companies knew it was a known harmful substance, asbestos was used in products sold without warnings or safety instructions. This means that former International Paper employees who have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases have the right to seek compensation. Settlements obtained on your behalf 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 are experienced 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 victims who were exposed to asbestos while working at International Paper’s worksites.
The asbestos attorneys at Belluck & Fox will address your specific needs Our experienced mesothelioma lawyers can make accommodations to meet with you in your home, and will handle all the work on your case. 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.