Bell Asbestos Mines

Bell Asbestos Mines Logo
  • Founded: 1876

  • Years Operated: 1876 - 2008

  • Headquarters: Thetford, Quebec

  • Business: Mining

  • Asbestos Trust: Yes

  • Bankruptcy Status: Filed on Oct. 1, 2001, and reorganized on Nov. 8, 2007

    Trust Fund Information

  • Amount in Trust: $635 million

  • Year Created: 2007

History

In 1920, Turner & Newall Company formed after the merger of several United Kingdom manufacturers of asbestos-containing products. One of these companies was J.W. Roberts Ltd., which remained a division of Turner & Newall. In 1934, Turner & Newall bought the Atlas Asbestos Co., a Canadian corporation, and in 1936, it acquired Keasbey and Mattison Company, the owner of Bell Mine in Thetford, Quebec. Bell Mines excavated and milled raw chrysotile asbestos. In 1937, Turner & Newall formed a wholly owned subsidiary, Bell Asbestos Mines Ltd., to acquire the mind and spin it off as a separate business unit.

Throughout the 1930s, J. W. Roberts manufactured an insulation product called Sprayed Limpet Asbestos. Manufactured in England, the product was distributed through a series of exclusive license agreements. Keasbey and Mattison, a division of Turner & Newall at that time, distributed Sprayed Limpet Asbestos in the United States until CertainTeed Corporation and Nicolet Industries purchased the company in 1962. The license agreement was then granted to Armstrong Contracting and Supply Company.

In 1967, the Armstrong license was transferred to Atlas Asbestos Co., an internal division of Bell Asbestos Mines that also manufactured Limpet. That unit helped set the stage for the demise of Bell Asbestos Mines.

U.S.-based Federal Mogul Corporation purchased Turner & Newell and all of its subsidiaries in 1998. It was a hardly a windfall buy. Federal Mogul filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001, primarily as a result of asbestos-related claims filed against Turner & Newell and its subsidiaries.

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Litigation & Specific Lawsuits

Bell Asbestos Mines faced a number of liabilities. From 1932 until the late 1970s, it supplied raw fiber to many U.S. manufacturing companies. Turner Newall defended numerous asbestos lawsuits filed by plaintiffs exposed to asbestos during the fiber’s manufacturing or transport.

Turner Newall sold Limpet in the United States from 1967 until 1974. Asbestos claims related to this product stem from allegations that a plaintiff worked as a sprayer, a sprayer’s assistant or other occupations that shared a worksite where Limpet was used. Family members who washed asbestos-covered work clothes also faced risks for secondary asbestos exposure.

As part of Federal-Mogul’s reorganization plan, a separate fund was created to handle only lawsuits against Turner & Newell, which included claims resulting from the Bell mine. The fund, named the T&N Subfund Trust, began accepting claims late in 2010.

Similar to other trust funds, the T&N Subfund offers claimants a choice of how their claims will be processed – either expedited or individual. The expedited claims take less time, but a single, fixed payment is dispensed to all claimants regardless of exposure or health condition. Individual reviews take more time and payment amounts vary.

Industries & Occupations

The workers most exposed to asbestos from Bell Mines were the miners and millers of the chrysotile. However, the asbestos exposure risk reached much further. Federal-Mogul inherited the majority of its asbestos claims after acquiring Turner & Newall, a building materials manufacturer that used and sold asbestos products. A wide range of construction occupations were exposed to these products, including insulation workers, carpenters, painters and electricians. Turner & Newall also brokered raw asbestos fiber to companies in various parts of the world.

J.W. Roberts Limited, which became a subsidiary of Federal Mogul through the Turner Newall Acquisition, manufactured a spray-on fireproofing, acoustical and thermal insulation product known as Sprayed Limpet Asbestos. Limpet contained 60 percent asbestos, 38 percent cement, and 2 percent mineral oil.

As a fireproofing treatment, insulation workers applied Limpet to steel beams, girders, columns or the underside of flooring. And as an acoustical treatment, workers coated ceilings or walls with the product. In addition, HVAC workers were likely exposed to Limpet used as thermal insulation for energy-producing turbines.

Products

Turner & Newall’s Sprayed Limpet Asbestos was replaced by sprayed slag wool in 1976, after the United States banned sprayed insulation productions made up of greater than 1 percent asbestos.

Mine Contamination

Asbestos fiber from dumping 250 tons of waste from the Bell Minds mine polluted the area of Thetford, Quebec. That included the mill at Lake Asbestos. Dr. Lewinsohn, T&N’s physician, found that instead of providing workers with safe conditions, the mill increased asbestos output.

Additional Resources

  1. In Re: Asbestos Litigation. (2011, October 6). Retrieved from http://courts.delaware.gov/opinions/download.aspx?ID=162740
  2. In the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2012, from http://www.federalmogul.com/
  3. RAND. Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/pubs/technical_reports/2010/RAND_TR872.pdf
  4. McDaniel v. Armstrong World Industries. (1985, March 14). Retrieved from http://dc.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19850314_0000062.DDC.htm/qx
  5. Mogul Jumping. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2012, from http://www.ewg.org/
  6. McCulloch, J. (2005 October). Mining and Mendacity. Retrieved from http://www.egilman.com/documents/publications/ijoeh/IJOEH_Oct05_II.pdf
  7. Castleman, B. (2004) Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=dmBWIkIu_IwC&pg=PA192&lpg=PA192&dq=bell+asbestos+mines&source=bl&ots=rO7gwjct6w&sig=PT6e7Io3YSS_lhPX_AQLXZS8imE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2Tf_T8vhDoqm9ATu_rzqBg&ved=0CGkQ6AEwBjgU#v=onepage&q=bell%20asbestos%20mines&f=false

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