ABB Lummus Global, Inc. is part of a larger organization, ABB Ltd., which is headquartered in Switzerland. ABB combined two separate entities, the Swedish electrical company Allmanna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget (ASEA) and Switzerland-based Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC), both of which were founded in the late 1800s.
Specializing in high-capacity transformers and electrical systems, ASEA built the world’s first 120 MVA 220kV transformer and designed the first 400 kV AC cable. BBC built Europe’s first steam turbine, the first high-speed locomotive and the first gas-insulated switchgear of specific power that was designed to increase the safety of circuit breakers in confined spaces.
The companies merged in 1988, forming ABB and establishing a headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. As a single company, the researchers, scientists and technicians of ABB continued their ground-breaking work in manufacturing and process automation.
In 1995, ABB created Lummus Global by merging ABB Global Engineering with ABB Lummus Crest. Lummus Global has long been a leader in the development of process technology for the petrochemical and oil and gas industries. The company currently operates through five business divisions: power products, power systems, discrete automation and motion, low voltage products and process automation.
For several decades, ABB manufactured many products that contained asbestos ingredients. The company incorporated this dangerous mineral into products like gaskets, valves, insulation, and other items used in generators, reactors and related technologies. As a result, ABB faced asbestos claims that eventually caused significant legal implications.
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In 2006, ABB Lummus Global filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in an effort to pay out asbestos-related liability claims filed against the company. It was the second of two ABB subsidiaries to file an asbestos- related bankruptcy. The first, Combustion Engineering, had filed for Chapter 11 the previous year. Injured parties filed a total of 135,000 asbestos claims against Lummus Global in the United States, and another 440,000 claims were filed against Combustion Engineering.
An Asbestos PI Trust was created as part of the Lummus Chapter 11 reorganization plan. ABB allocated nearly $1.5 billion to pay asbestos claims made by employees and subcontractors of Lummus Global and Combustion Engineering. The purpose of the Trust is to expedite claims against ABB in a timely and equitable fashion.
The Trust sets forth a process for filing a claim and the specific procedure by which claims are assessed. At the time the initial Trust document was released, awards were capped at $4,000 for Feedwater Heater Claims and $30,000 for Design and Construction Claims. In 2007, ABB sold Lummus Global to Texas-based CB&I for $950 million in an effort to further fund its asbestos liability trust. Today, products manufactured by ABB US are asbestos-free.
ABB Lummus Global manufactured a variety of asbestos-containing equipment and technologies throughout its long history. The manufacturing of these products put many of ABB’s employees at risk of developing respiratory illnesses related to asbestos exposure.
Some of the occupations potentially exposed while working at ABB include factory workers, machinists, metal workers and engineers. Continual exposure to asbestos can be detrimental and may not be noticeable for decades. At risk workers are encouraged to receive regular medical screenings and report any health conditions to their doctor.
Some of the products manufactured by ABB that potentially contained asbestos include high-capacity transformers, electrical systems, AC cables, steam turbines and gas-insulated switchgears.
Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of professional writing experience. He joined Asbestos.com in 2016, and he spends much of his time reading, analyzing and reporting on mesothelioma research articles to ensure people in the mesothelioma community know the latest medical advancements. Prior to joining Asbestos.com, Matt was a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel. Matt also edits some of the pages on the website. He also holds a certificate in health writing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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