Coast Guard

Coast Guard veterans have served the United States since 1790 by safeguarding our maritime interests, patrolling our ports, waterways, rivers, and open high seas, performing life-saving ocean rescues, and ensuring maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship. These vital and hazardous tasks often placed Coast Guard veterans at great risk. One formidable and unforeseen deadly risk incurred by veterans of Coast Guard service is exposure to asbestos, the toxic mineral responsible for mesothelioma. One example of a prominent location for the possibility of asbestos exposure was the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard, often simply called “The Yard.”

Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard history

Established in 1899, Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard was originally a training facility for new Coast Guard cadets in Baltimore, Maryland. By 1910, the Yard was converted into a ship building, repair, and renovation facility encompassing 113 acres. At its peak of operations, the Yard employed 3,000 onsite workers during World War II. The Yard was a prominent key to the ship building effort in World War II.

In preparation for their increased role as ship builders and renovators, the Coast Guard constructed Fleet Hall in 1939 as part of a modernization plan for permanent housing and wartime operations. Also known as Building No. 33, Fleet Hall replaced temporary wooden barracks housing Coast Guard personnel.

Coast Guard veterans at risk for developing mesothelioma

Over the course of decades of construction, ship building, and renovation work, the Yard is thought to have accumulated a number of toxic chemicals and hazardous waste in ground water, surface water, soil, and sentiments. The toxic substances included:

  • asbestos
  • dioxin
  • pesticides
  • polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • metals
  • semi-volatile organic compounds

In 2008 the Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency signed an agreement to clean up the site of all toxic waste materials. In the agreement, the Coast Guard is obligated to exhaustively examine and investigate impacts associated with past activities at the Yard and take appropriate action in order to protect the environment and community.

In an attempt to protect active and future personnel, the Coast Guard has implemented a Disclosure of Environmental Health Hazards in Coast Guard Housing specifically naming asbestos as a material used in construction of Coast Guard structures:

“Housing built before 1981 may contain lead-based paint or asbestos-containing material. Asbestos or lead materials can pose health hazards if not managed properly…The Coast Guard must disclose the presence of known lead-based paint and/or asbestos-containing material in the dwelling before assigning personnel to pre-1981 housing.”

In addition to this disclosure, the Coast Guard is required to distribute a federally approved pamphlet: Asbestos Exposure Control Manual.

Coast Guard veteran legal rights

Although Coast Guard veterans do not have the option of filing a lawsuit against the government for damages suffered during service, there is an opportunity to file an asbestos lawsuit against the company or companies that manufactured or installed the asbestos products which caused eventual development of asbestosis, asbestos lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Coast Guard veterans earned the right and are entitled to take legal action if they have developed mesothelioma or asbestos related diseases as a result of their service. Although nothing can compensate a veteran or his family for a mesothelioma illness, ensuring that their families are financially cared for can bring some semblance of stability to a family in crisis. Many thousands of lawsuits have been filed against asbestos companies for product liability compensation. And many veterans have a good chance of prevailing in court.

If you are a Coast Guard veteran and you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible to receive compensation. If you want to talk to an asbestos attorney about the nature of asbestos legal action, please contact us today.