Though aluminum maker Ormet Corporation closed the doors of its Hannibal, Ohio plant in 2013, the company left a lasting mark on the small town. Once the fourth-largest aluminum producer in the U.S., taking its proud place behind giants like Alcoa, Ormet owned “dozens of football field-sized buildings”, according to the Wall Street Journal, but closed after disputes between power providers and state regulators. At closing about 1,000 employees worked there. In years past, the number was much higher.
Ohio s Former Ormet Aluminum Plant a Toxic Hazard
The closure of the Ormet aluminum plant was sad for many, but for others that lived and worked in the community, it was good riddance to a workplace that was full of toxins.
As a matter of fact, Ormet’s property was declared an EPA Superfund site in 1987. According to the EPA, “moderate levels of cyanide and fluoride, both mobile and in the groundwater, were identified, and soils in the area were identified as a primary ongoing contributor of cyanide and fluoride contamination to groundwater.” About 47 acres of the site were of major concern.
In addition, the employees at Ormet Aluminum were regularly exposed to asbestos. When the plant began operations in 1958, asbestos materials were popular because they were the cheapest and most efficient way to avoid fires inside plants where high temperatures were commonplace.
Asbestos was known for centuries as a top-notch fire resistant material, so it was often used as insulation for pipes, wiring, generators, boilers, and other equipment. Workers handled the material with their bare hands and rarely wore masks to avoid inhaling asbestos fibers.
Usually, employees such as those at Ormet Aluminum knew little or nothing about the dangers of the material, and plant executives were unlikely to spread the word, even when it was becoming evident that asbestos inhalation was causing major respiratory problems among workers.
In aluminum plants, furnaces included asbestos material. Pots were lined with asbestos-containing refractories. Asbestos pipe covering was found throughout the reduction plant as well as in the South Plant at Ormet and in the rolling mill as well.
“Dough balls” used to stop molten aluminum from escaping the furnaces were made of raw asbestos fibers. Workers were even provided with protective clothing made of asbestos! Clearly, for many Ormet Aluminum employees, exposure was unavoidable.
Today, former workers are suffering the ravages of mesothelioma, a form of cancer that often takes decades to appear and is relentless once symptoms begin. Mesothelioma is historically one of the most difficult cancers to treat and one that responds least to conventional treatments like chemotherapy or radiation.
Sadly, it was clear that many Ormet employees (and exposed family members) would wind up treading the mesothelioma path, yet executives seemed not to care.
Don’t let Ormet and the companies that manufactured the asbestos products they used get away with murder…literally. If you have been sickened with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at Hannibal’s Ormet Aluminum plant, contact an experienced asbestos attorney for a list of your options. A successful lawsuit could help you and your family move forward during this difficult ordeal.