Between WWI and its closure in 1982, the Donner Hanna Coke Corporation produced chemical byproducts in its Buffalo, New York, coke-oven plant. These byproducts were valued by the U.S. military and the private chemical industry.
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Asbestos Exposure at Donner Hanna Coke Corporation
Due to the high-temperature of the coke production process, asbestos materials were commonly used. Many coke ovens were lined with asbestos refractory, while asbestos cement, bricks, and insulation were used on the outside. The dangerous asbestos materials could also be found in boilers, pipes, pumps, valves, gaskets, and ductwork.
Workers were exposed to asbestos materials while maintaining or repairing coke ovens and other systems in the facility. Even those who didn’t work directly with asbestos products may have been exposed through asbestos fibers in the air.
Coke is a coal derivative. Workers at the Donner Hanna Coke plant operated coke ovens that measured about 17 inches wide, 13 feet tall, and 32 feet long. Ducts ran between the ovens to allow for the high-temperature heating (about 2000 degrees) required to produce coke.
Workers used a “larry car” to carry damp coal on rails from a storage facility to the coke ovens. The coal was then unloaded into each oven through a hole. As the ovens were heated, the volatile coal components collected on lidded openings on the topside of the ovens. The components were then transferred to the byproduct recovery plant.
After 16 to 17 hours in the ovens, coal was transformed to coke. When the coking cycle was complete, workers would open the doors on either end of the ovens and use a ramming device on one side to push the coke out the other side and into a railroad car, which transported the coke to be cooled with water in a “quench tower.”
We Represent Former Donner Hanna Coke Workers with Mesothelioma
The Donner Hanna Coke Corporation employed many residents of Buffalo, N.Y. Now, decades later, former coke factory workers are suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related diseases.
If you or a loved one is suffering from asbestos disease, you need to talk with a highly recognized New York asbestos attorneys at Belluck & Fox, LLP as soon as possible. Our skilled legal team has in-depth knowledge of the Donner Hanna Coke facilities.
We know where asbestos was used at the Buffalo plant, and we can build a strong case for full and fair financial compensation.
History of Donner Hanna Coke Corporation
The Donner-Union Coke Corporation was formed in 1917 as a partnership between the Buffalo Union Furnace Company and the Donner Steel Company. Both companies operated iron production plants along the Buffalo River and used coke — a relatively pure source of fuel derived from coal — from Northern Pennsylvania to fuel their operations.
The newly formed asbestos company found its services in high demand as WWI broke out. The production of TNT required the use of coal chemical byproducts, and artificial fertilizers required ammonia. With the help of the U.S. Army’s Ordnance Department, Donner-Union Coke began constructing a 150-oven coke plant in Buffalo. Although the war ended before the plant was completed, the Army elected to finish and then lease the facility to Donner-Union Coke.
After the war and the coke-oven plant’s completion, the Hanna Furnace Corporation purchased the Buffalo Union Furnace Company, including its half-share of the new plant. As a result, the company’s name was changed to Donner Hanna Coke Corporation, and the plant opened for business in 1920.
As part of the United States’ WWII efforts, the plant increased the number of ovens to 252 and produced chemical xylene. However, the EPA began to investigate the plant for unsafe and excessive emissions in the 1970s, and the plant ceased operations in 1982.
- Water Environment Federation: Industrial Wastes: Chemical-Type Coke Plant Solves Waste Problems by Cooperative Efforts
- ISPAT Guru: Coke Oven By-Product Plant
- Archive Grid: Donner-Hanna Coke Corporation Records, 1917-1981