Tucson, Arizona – A settlement agreement with a corporation which made construction products containing asbestos that were used in some buildings in the city will pump up $5.5 million to the coffers of Tucson.
The city hopes to get the sum as the share of the WR Grace federal bankruptcy settlement.
In 2001, W R Grace had declared bankruptcy after numerous lawsuits were filed against it in connection with the injuries and deaths caused by its asbestos-containing products.
In 2002, the city decided to hire outside counsel for representing it all through the litigation. However, the process prolonged for several years.
On the whole, the settlement amount of the city was $7.7 million. However, $2.2 million out of this went toward the fees of outside counsel.
Most of the asbestos-containing products were used in fireproof structures. They were used in such areas where it wouldn’t generally be exposed inside those buildings, according to Mike Rankin, the City Attorney.
Some city buildings which contain or had contained asbestos products of W R Grace include the: Leo Rich Theater; Tucson Convention Centre meeting rooms; City Hall; Tucson Convention Centre Music Hall; former City Hall Annex; and Transportation Contract Service Centre.
Asbestos is a fibrous silicate mineral found in the nature. It was extensively used in almost all commercial and public buildings built prior to the 1980s in the U.S. As an excellent fireproofing substance, asbestos was heavily added to asphalt, concrete, pipes, vinyl materials in the roof shingles, siding, floor tiles, wall board, adhesives and joint compounds.
As the material has good resistance against heat, asbestos was also used in thermal insulation. Despite being a deadly carcinogen, asbestos can also be found in acoustical plaster. It was also used as in a mixture which is sprayed on the walls and ceilings. All such wonderful features, along with its low cost, made asbestos a ‘miracle’ substance of the construction industry.
As long as remains stable, asbestos is not considered a health threat. Problem arises when the material is deteriorated, broken, damaged or disturbed (which can happen during any renovation or demolition activities or several other instances). When asbestos is disturbed, it would release microscopic fibers into the environment. These invisible fibers are easily inhalable. Studies have found that inhalation of asbestos fibers could result in fatal conditions such as lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma.