Houston is the largest city in Texas and one of the state’s key economic centers. The main industry is energy, especially oil, gas extraction, and refining. Other industries include shipbuilding and aeronautics. Many of these and other workplaces used asbestos for decades, causing exposure and thousands of related deaths.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for significant compensation. Right now, there is over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds for people who have been affected by asbestos. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on experienced mesothelioma attorneys in Houston, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more.
Houston Asbestos Facts
- Texas has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related deaths, with over 15,000 between 1999 and 2013.
- Of those, 2,124 occurred in Houston and Harris County, the highest number in the state.
- Oil and shipping, two major Houston industries were heavy users of asbestos and responsible for much of the exposure.
Houston’s History with Asbestos
Houston has long been home to energy production companies that used asbestos-containing materials. Oil drilling and refining facilities sprang up around the city after oil was discovered in the area in the early 1900s.
Asbestos was added to oil rigs and other machinery to protect them from the effects of high heat and to prevent fires. Asbestos was also incorporated into pipelines and most of the various components in oil refineries.
Shipyards also used large amounts of asbestos during the process of constructing ships. Engine parts, boilers, gaskets, insulation, and even wiring for electronic devices contained some amount of asbestos to protect vessels, cargo, passengers, and crew from overheating and fires.
Asbestos use in Houston oil facilities and shipyards decreased gradually after 1973 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued reports which officially connected asbestos exposure to mesothelioma and other deadly illnesses. Lingering asbestos in industrial sites, ships, and even homes and public buildings remains a health issue in the city.
Houston Refining (Lyondell-Citgo Refinery)
One example of a local company that used asbestos is the Houston Refining facility on the Gulf coast. It once belonged to Citgo Petroleum, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned PDVSA oil company. In the early 2000s, PDVSA sold the refinery to Lyondell Chemical, which renamed the refinery as the Lyondell-Citgo Refinery (LCR).
In 2006, Lyondell purchased Citgo’s share of the facility and renamed it Houston Refining. Name changes could not hide the fact that this refinery was built when asbestos was in standard use. It has been cited as a major source of pollution and incidences of cancer in workers.
Houston’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico has made it a major shipbuilding community. They contributed to Houston’s industrial growth during both World Wars and the postwar era.
Thousands of ships were built for civilian operators and for the U.S. Navy, including hundreds of warships and mass-produced Liberty cargo ships used during World War II. The majority of these vessels were constructed with asbestos-containing materials. As a result, shipyard workers and others who worked and lived aboard these ships were exposed to harmful asbestos.
Houston shipyards include:
- Bloodworth Bond Shipyard
- Brown Shipbuilding Corporation
- Platzer Boat Works
- Schmidt Barge Yard
- Todd-Houston Shipbuilding Corporation/Houston Shipbuilding Corporation
Not all of these are still in operation, and some have changed hands. But all used asbestos at one point in time.
Platzer (later Trinity Marine), for instance, built tug boats and tank barges at its Greens Bayou facility from 1925 to 1997. First Wave Marine acquired the shipyard and operated it as a repair yard until 2002. Many of the tugs and barges were built with asbestos-based materials and parts, and many are still in service today.
Currently, Southwest Shipyard is a major provider of repair and refit services for several types of vessels. Southwest began operating in 1954, during the peak period of asbestos use in U.S. shipyards.
Although their Houston-area facilities have participated in asbestos-abatement programs, former employees were exposed to asbestos. Many vessels still have some asbestos and workers require protection measures.
Getting Legal Help in Houston
Remember, if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may qualify for significant compensation. Remember to fill out our form to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on the experienced asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers in your area. If you need additional assistance, contact us toll-free at