ABB Lummus Global’s History with Asbestos
ABB Lummus Global was formed in 1995 with the merger of two companies that used industrial and electrical products containing asbestos.
Lummus’ predecessors used electrical systems, steam turbines and feedwater heaters in the construction of refineries, factories, chemical plants and power plants.
Asbestos was used in industrial and electrical products to insulate and provide heat-resistance. At the time, asbestos fibers were affordable and considered one of the best insulators for industrial and electrical materials.
ABB Lummus Global, now known as Lummus Technology, offers process technologies, project management, engineering, procurement and construction management to construct industrial buildings.
They helped build hydroprocessing plants for the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, in addition to other industrial plants such as power plants, chemical plants and any factory or plant that needed a feedwater heater.
Rather than directly manufacture asbestos products, ABB Lummus Global used asbestos products in the design and construction of industrial plants. Many of the lawsuits involving ABB Lummus Global were filed by workers who were exposed to asbestos during the construction of these refineries, factories and plants.
As a result, ABB Lummus Global faced asbestos claims that eventually forced them into bankruptcy.
Development of the ABB Lummus Global Inc. Asbestos PI Trust
On April 21, 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, filed for Chapter 11 the previous year.
The ABB Lummus Global Inc. Asbestos Personal Injury Trust was created as part of the Chapter 11 reorganization plan. ABB allocated $33 million to the trust to pay future asbestos claims.
The trust liquidated and paid 2,515 claims in 2017, totaling nearly $2 million, according to an annual financial report filed in April 2018.
At the end of 2020, the trust contained more than $18 million. The payment percentage is currently set at 11.7% of the claim value.
Asbestos Litigation Involving ABB Lummus Global
ABB’s U.S. entities, including Combustion Engineering and Lummus Global, were facing more than 135,000 lawsuits in 2005.
More than 11,000 of these lawsuits were filed against Lummus Global.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuits alleged their asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, were caused by exposure to asbestos products used in the construction of industrial buildings.
ABB Lummus Global’s Asbestos Products
Lummus Global used several asbestos-containing products to construct industrial buildings, including:
- Electrical systems
- High-capacity transformers
- AC cables
- Feedwater heaters
- Steam turbines
- Gas-insulated switchgears
- Wiring insulation
ABB Lummus Global Occupations at Risk
Workers in occupations that used asbestos products during the construction of refineries, chemical plants and other industrial plants were at serious risk of exposure.
Employees at these locations who worked around these products were also at risk of asbestos exposure after construction was complete, especially during renovations or repairs.
Some of the occupations at risk of exposure to asbestos products used by Lummus Global include:
- Factory workers
- Industrial workers
- Shipyard workers
- U.S. Navy veterans
- Chemical plant workers
- Power plant workers
- Steam plant workers
- Refinery workers
- Automotive plant workers
- Railway workers
- Metal workers
- Water plant operators
- Paper mill operators
- Printing workers
- Public utility workers
- Metal workers
At-risk workers are encouraged to receive regular medical screenings and report any health conditions to their doctor.
Lummus Global’s History
ABB Lummus Global, Inc. was part of a larger organization, ABB Ltd. It was headquartered in Switzerland, until it was sold in 2007.
Lummus went through multiple mergers and acquisitions and is now owned by McDermott International, but the division may be acquired by another company in 2020.
ABB Ltd. was established in the late 1980s when two companies merged, including 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 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 groundbreaking work in manufacturing and process automation.
In 1995, ABB created Lummus Global by merging ABB Global Engineering with ABB Lummus Crest. Lummus Global has since been a leader in the development of process technology for the oil and gas, petrochemical and refining industries.
ABB sold Lummus Global in November 2007 to Texas-based Chicago Bridge & Iron Company, also known as CB&I, for $950 million. That year, CB&I partnered with Chevron in a joint venture to create Chevron Lummus Global, a leading licensor for hydroprocessing technologies.
In May 2018, CB&I was acquired by McDermott International. The merger led to CB&I’s removal from the New York Stock Exchange and its business operations took on the Lummus brand name.
Lummus Global became known as Lummus Technology, and Chevron Lummus Global entered a partnership with McDermott.
Law360 reported in 2019 that McDermott announced it received unsolicited offers to sell Lummus Technologies, but no acquisition has been announced yet.
Today, products manufactured and licensed by Lummus are asbestos-free.