Long Beach Naval Shipyard, which was officially closed 1997, was given its current name in 1948. The installation was previously known as Terminal Island Naval Shipyard and the U.S. Naval Dry Docks, Roosevelt Base, California.
The facility was designated as a repair location for surface ships. The shipyard had onsite facilities to perform all non-structural repairs, including boiler, rigging, electrical, lagging, sandblasting, welding, machining, woodworking, painting and pipe fitting. During World War II, the dry docks provided both routine and damage repairs to tankers, cargo ships, troop transports, destroyers and cruisers.
A large majority of the operations at this shipyard and others involved exposure to asbestos-contaminated materials, including pipe fitting, lagging sandblasting, machining, maintenance and working with boilers and other hot materials. Spray-on asbestos was also applied to many parts of a vessel, even sleeping quarters. As a result of this extensive asbestos usage in shipyards, many workers and Navy personnel have developed asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
Many workers at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard were exposed to high levels of asbestos fibers. In a study documented in 1979, 6,640 employees, or about 88 percent of the total number of staff members, underwent a chest X-ray to determine if they had developed any abnormalities as a result of their exposure.
The researchers who reviewed the results of these X-rays observed that:
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In a January 2010 report, the Navy explained what had been done to clean up the various contaminants, including asbestos that was found at that location known as the Long Beach Naval Complex, which was made up of the former Naval Station Long Beach and the former Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
These uncovered contaminants were typically found at bases that built and serviced ships, and included “solid and liquid waste disposal, chemical storage, ship manufacturing, degreasing, paint removal, dry cleaning, electrical and weapons shop operations, fueling operations, and other industrial activities.”
The Navy’s solutions involved dealing with the removal of these contaminants as specified in their own Records of Decision for Installation Restoration (IR) Sites, which were endorsed by two divisions of the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Former U.S. Army Capt. Aaron Munz is the director of the Veterans Department at The Mesothelioma Center, and he is a VA-accredited Claims Agent. He received the Bronze Star in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Munz has intimate knowledge of how veterans were exposed to asbestos because he served under similar conditions. Read More