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Asbestos Exposure at Minnesota Job Sites

6/2/11, Minnesota Mesothelioma Lawyer: Minnesota’s economic history is steeped in iron ore mining, logging, steel and paper making and other heavy industries that relied upon the state’s abundant natural resources.

Most Minnesota job sites where asbestos was used, or is known to have been a danger, consist of iron ore mining facilities and related operations, oil refineries, and power plants and utilities. Asbestos exposure in Minnesota was likely an occupational hazard for many of the state’s workers who were unknowingly exposed on the job and now suffer from such life-threatening diseases as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Other Minnesota Job Sites and Asbestos Exposure

Most of Minnesota’s naturally-occurring asbestos deposits—both serpentine chrysotile and amphibole—are located in the northeastern region of the state. It is in this area that iron mines, long closed down, were re-opened by the Reserve Mining Corporation in the 1970s to meet China’s demand for iron ore. Most of this iron ore is found in deposits of a silicate mineral known as taconite.

Taconite was once disregarded by iron mining operations as a waste product. However, now that U.S. iron mines are fairly well depleted, taconite has become the source of most iron ore presently being extracted. It is a silicate mineral that is found among layers of shale, much like asbestiform minerals.

In the years following the reactivation of the mines, rates of mesothelioma in northeast Minnesota increased by 70%; in addition, asbestos-like fibers were found in community water supplies. These fibers are either taconite, or the taconite has been contaminated with asbestos fibers.

Minnesota health officials are currently conducting studies to determine whether taconite dust itself is responsible for the increased rates of mesothelioma in the area, or if the taconite is contaminated with asbestos fibers.

Unfortunately, new cases of mesothelioma continue to emerge in Minnesota mining workers. Researchers working on the Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study recently reported that they have found 14 more cases of the deadly cancer mesothelioma, bringing the total number of cases up to 77 out of 45,000 mine workers. The study by the University of Minnesota has been tracking former taconite miners.

Asbestos Exposure Sites in Minnesota

Following is a list of some of the Minnesota asbestos exposure work sites where workers were potentially and unnecessarily exposed to asbestos and put at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer: Big Stone Lake Point Power; Hoot Lake Plant; Koch Petroleum; Marathon Oil; Monticello Nuclear Power Plant; Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant.

While many of these sites have taken steps to keep their employees and visitors safe since the problem was discovered, people who worked in or visited these areas in the past may still have been exposed to asbestos. Individuals who lived or worked near these areas or other known asbestos exposure sites in Minnesota should be checked regularly for signs of mesothelioma and should contact a Minnesota mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after a diagnosis in order to file any lawsuits within the state’s statute of limitations.


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