The PPG Natrium plant – Owned and operated by PPG Industries, the Natrium plant in New Martinsville, West Virginia has been part of the landscape of that town since 1943. The plant was originally constructed by the United States government and utilized PPG for technology and operations, according to the company.
For the first three years that it was in operation, the PPG Natrium plant was charged with the task of producing chlorine and caustic soda to be used in the war effort. Once the war ended, PPG acquired the plant and has been operating it ever since.
Today, the plant can produce chlorine at a rate of 1,100 tons per day, thanks to modern technology and expansion of the once-small facility. The plant also boasts a huge powerhouse facility, generating some 100,000 KW of electricity.
The Natrium plant has always been a major employer in this portion of southwest Marshall County, West Virginia and today employs workers who toil each day to produce not only chlorine and caustic soda but also hydrogen, calcium hypochlorite, and muriatic acid.
At its start, this plant was considered to be a pioneer in the field of chemical manufacturing, especially in the Ohio Valley area, and employees were proud to be a part of such an enterprising endeavor.
But for some, that pride dissipated when they found out that their work at the PPG Natrium plant was making them sick. Think about all the chemicals that were processed there and about the potential for inhaling toxins and you’ll understand the concern.
A wealth of health problems began to plague PPG New Martinsville workers, not the least of which were lung-related ailments caused by exposure to asbestos-containing products.
In 1943, when the plant first opened, asbestos was used abundantly, especially by the U.S. military. It was found aboard their naval ships and in other military operations as well. Asbestos was considered the perfect insulator and, as a bonus, it was cheap.
Even when other, safer insulation materials came along, the military – as well as private corporations – kept using asbestos because it was so inexpensive. As a result, several generations of workers like those at the Natrium plant became victims of asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that’s tough to beat. Those who were exposed on-the-job often don’t know they have the disease until symptoms start to appear decades later. Coughs, shortness of breath, fatigue – all of those symptoms are often mistaken for something less ominous, but in cases where asbestos exposure occurred, mesothelioma is sometimes the diagnosis.
Sadly, there is no cure for the disease and few patients respond well to treatments. As a result, the prognosis for former Natrium workers with mesothelioma is grim.
Do you know someone who worked at PPG Natrium who is struggling with asbestos-caused cancer? Are you a former employee that’s been diagnosed with the disease?
Did you know that you might be eligible for compensation for this negligent exposure? An in-depth consultation with an experienced local attorney can help you determine your legal rights. Schedule one today for more detailed information.