Built in 1882 in Essex County, New York, International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill is one of the largest paper factories in the United States. The International Paper mill employed thousands of local workers, but asbestos materials and equipment were widely used throughout the facility.
During most of the twentieth century, asbestos was used at International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill. Many former International Paper employees have developed mesothelioma and lung cancer. Mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, is caused by exposure to asbestos. Anyone who was employed at International Paper in Ticonderoga prior to the 1990s is at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma victims need to seek out experienced asbestos attorneys to represent their cases. Belluck & Fox is a nationally-recognized asbestos law firm, and has represented several former employees of International Paper who were diagnosed with mesothelioma and lung cancer as a direct result of exposure at the Ticonderoga plant, including engineers, laborers, maintenance mechanics, and paper machine operators. We have extensive records and pictures of the asbestos products used at International Paper in Ticonderoga, including documents related to the powerhouse and paper mill. We have toured the facility and taken depositions of many International Paper employees.
With an output of about four million metric tons of paper per year, International Paper is one of the world’s largest paper manufacturers. The company began as eighteen independent pulp and paper mills in the northeastern United States and Canada that incorporated as a single entity at the turn of the twentieth century. Within a few short years of merging, the company’s newsprint was the paper of choice for nearly two-thirds of all U.S. periodicals. In addition to newsprint and other paper, International Paper manufactures envelopes, packaging, shipping containers, and holds a significant market share of paper and plastic packaging for the food industry.
Because the company controlled all stages of the papermaking process, they purchased large tracts of forest for lumber. At one point, this made them the largest private owner of real estate in the United States, with land holdings of over 1.7 million acres of timberland at its height.
Asbestos Exposure at the Ticonderoga Mill
International Paper’s presence in Ticonderoga was originally distributed throughout the city. The company operated out of six separate mills in the city, known as the A, B, C, and D mills, the Island Mill, and the Lower Mill. In December of 1970 however, IP shuttered these mills and consolidated its Ticonderoga operations into a new mill built along the shore of Lake Champlain. Asbestos was used at both of the Ticonderoga paper mill sites, exposing workers to asbestos on a daily basis. Equipment and materials that were frequently subjected to high temperatures, high voltage, or corrosive chemicals were made with asbestos.
Paper begins as wood. Lumber and wood chips are first brought to the mill’s wood yard, where they are debarked and ground to size. The byproducts of this process are used as fuel for boilers in the mill’s power plant. After these byproducts are separated out and the wood has been chipped, it is transported to the pulp mill. Asbestos was often used in brakes which could be found on grinding machines in this area of the plant.
The pulp mill is the area where wood chips are treated with heat and chemicals, converting them into pulp. The chips are cooked until the lignin – the binding that holds the wood together – dissolves, at which point the wood chips become pulpy. This pulp is run through a filtering process to remove all remaining byproducts. The liquid byproduct, known as black liquor, is collected for use as fuel for the boilers. Here, digesters – large pressure cookers where pulp is chemically treated – were lined with asbestos cement, refractory, gaskets, and insulation.
Chemicals used in the pulping process are collected and treated for use elsewhere in plant. Heat and caustic chemicals were used in these areas, and asbestos insulation and cement were used to line tanks and recovery vessels. Asbestos cement and insulation often came as a powder, which would expose workers to clouds of dust when mixed with water. Refractory bricks would often have pieces crumble to dust as they were being replaced.
Papermaking requires high amounts of energy to run, so the Ticonderoga mill maintains an on-site power plant that uses byproducts of other processes as fuel. Boilers burn black liquor and other fuel to provide heat, hot water, and electrical energy to the rest of the mill. These boiler rooms were a common site of asbestos exposure, as the boilers were fitted to pumps, valves, pipes, gauges, soot blowers, and turbines using asbestos gaskets and packing. Gaskets were cut to shape from whole sheets of asbestos prior to use, which would release asbestos fibers into the air. When these gaskets needed to be replaced, or the equipment joined with the gaskets repaired, they had to be scraped and wire brushed, releasing even more asbestos dust. Packing, which is a type of braided rope used to stuff pumps, valves, and pipes, was cut to length, and inserted and removed using special hooks, both of which would release asbestos fibers. Boilers often used asbestos cement, insulation, and refractory. Special evaporators also contained asbestos.
Two paper machines operate in the Ticonderoga mill, which convert treated pulp into finished paper. These machines are built as a four-stage system: the forming section, the press section, the drying section, and the calendar section. The main site of asbestos exposure from these machines was found in the drying section, which uses steam-heated cylinders to press water out of the pulp. Asbestos gaskets and packing were again used to seal the pipes leading to these machines, while asbestos brakes and gauges sealed with asbestos were used to monitor temperature. Asbestos drier felts, course fabric with an open weave wrapped around the rollers, were used to further absorb liquid, and were consistently distressed in the process. As these were exposed to heat and friction from the drying cylinders, the drier felts would release asbestos fibers during regular use. Asbestos brakes were also used on these machines.
Belluck & Fox Stands With Asbestos Victims
Over 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year because the asbestos industry suppressed information about the dangers associated with asbestos in order to continue profiting from the sale of a toxic substance. This means that people suffering from mesothelioma have the right to seek compensation from the asbestos companies.
Belluck & Fox helps asbestos victims and their families find the justice they deserve. We have secured over $500 million on behalf of our clients, money that can help pay for cancer treatments and provide your family with peace of mind. It is critical to act quickly after being diagnosed with an asbestos disease however, as the law limits the time in which victims may file a suit.
When looking to file an asbestos lawsuit, you need to seek attorneys with extensive experience. Belluck & Fox has a successful history taking on asbestos manufacturers, and have represented many workers who were employed by International Paper. Our attorneys know the ways in which you were exposed to asbestos, and know the manufacturers responsible for your illness.
The asbestos attorneys at Belluck & Fox will take extra care to address our clients’ individual needs, including in-home meetings for our clients. All the work on your case will be handled by our firm, and you will not be referred to a different lawyer. It is also important to keep in mind that our clients take no financial risk when retaining our services; we only accept 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.