Asbestos in Colorado

colorado
24th

ranking in U.S. for mesothelioma & asbestosis deaths

While Colorado's naturally rocky, mountainous landscape hosts many deposits of naturally occurring asbestos, most of the state's asbestos threats strem from industrial jobsites. Work settings such as factories, power plants, refineries and mines were among the state's major asbestos exposure threats.

Get a Free Mesothelioma Guide

Free Mesothelioma Packet

Free information, books, wristbands and more for patients and caregivers.

Get Yours Today

Industrial sites such as Conoco Oil Refinery, Oxnard Construction Company and Hudson Energy Company relied heavily on asbestos products until the 1980s. Asbestos insulation was a common component of these plants, which utilized the fibers to protect against fires caused by overheated machinery. Although asbestos helped reduce the risk of fire, it posed its own set of health risks to employees who handled the fibers.

If disturbed, the naturally occurring asbestos in Colorado also can cause illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. The Calumet Mine, Hecla No. 2 Mine and the CF&I Company Mine were all located on amphibole deposits, while mines such as the Dolores Co. Falcon Mine and the Iron King Mine in the Tomichi District were home to naturally occurring tremolite asbestos. None of these mines produced asbestos, but the mineral may have been disturbed during mining of the primary mineral.

Treatment Centers near Colorado

Get Help Now

Mesothelioma and Asbestosis Deaths, 1999-2013

  • 421 mesothelioma deaths
  • 74 asbestosis deaths
  • 495 total deaths

Get Connected with a Top Doctor

We can help you or a loved one find a mesothelioma doctor who specializes in chemotherapy.

Get Started Now Get Connected with a Top Doctor

Occupations at Risk

Factory and plant workers in Colorado faced numerous occupational asbestos hazards. Some workers directly handled asbestos while manufacturing products such as roofing compounds. Other employees may have been exposed to asbestos while repairing high-heat machinery that relied on asbestos as insulation.

Colorado’s mining industry also placed workers at risk for inhaling asbestos. Miners may have inhaled asbestos while extracting iron, limestone, gold, coal or other natural resources from the ground. Asbestiform minerals such as ferrian winchite or asbestiform tremolite from Colorado’s Salt Creek vermiculite deposits posed additional health risk to miners.

Jobsites and Environmental Areas at Risk

Workers at Colorado-based companies such as the Centel Corporation, Schmidt Incinerators and Utilicorp may now face elevated risks of developing mesothelioma.

Other Jobsites with Known Asbestos Exposure:

  • Colorado Springs Public Utilities
  • Hensel Phelps Construction Company
  • Poole Construction Company
  • Drive Train Industries
  • Nixon Power Plant

Several types of asbestos and asbestiform minerals have been found in Colorado soil, including the Caribou Mine and the Monarch Occurrence in Boulder. Additional areas where asbestos was present include:

range mine asbestos exposure colorado
  • Cree Camp
  • Milliken Occurrence, La Plata District
  • Sedalia Copper Mine
  • Sloan Diatremes
  • Snowy Range Mine

Western Minerals Company Plant

Between 1867 and 1990, Western Minerals Company Plant in Denver, Colorado, processed vermiculite ore for use in industrial applications. Some of the vermiculite received at the Western Minerals Plant was shipped by W.R. Grace’s Libby, Montana, vermiculite mine, where the ore was heavily contaminated with asbestos fibers. The Denver site processed up to 81,797 tons of this vermiculite, while three other unnamed processing plants in Florence, Lamar and Greeley processed up to 3,900 tons of Libby vermiculite.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took soil samples that revealed asbestos still remains in some of the Denver site’s soil, although the current owners have covered much of the soil with buildings and asphalt parking areas. The EPA determined that the site, which is now home to the Minnesota Corn Processors facility, is free from air contamination, yet employees during the vermiculite processing years may have been exposed to airborne asbestos.

Estes Power Plant

estes power plant colorado

Estes Power Plant in Larimer County turned reclaimed river water into usable water as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Reclamation Project. When the plant was constructed in 1950, asbestos was considered to be a prime insulator for the plant’s high-heat operations. As a result, many construction materials and equipment on site contained the fibers, potentially exposing workers whenever walls, tiles or machinery were roughly handled or repaired. The plant’s three generators may also have been insulated with asbestos.

In January 2011, the U.S. Department of the Interior requested bids from abatement companies to remove over 1,800 square feet of asbestos-contaminated plaster and 250 linear feet of chrysotile asbestos-laced HVAC duct wrap. Asbestos spray was also used on stabilizers and sheeting in the plant. The state estimated renovations to cost as much as $500,000.

Asbestos Lawsuits in Colorado

Colorado courts have presided over a number of asbestos lawsuits, including several filed against Colorado-based corporations. One such case was filed in 1986 against several corporations, including Harbison-Walker Refractory, one of the state’s leading fireproof ceramic and metal product manufacturers, and John Crane, Co., a prominent mechanical company. The former employees who had developed asbestos-related diseases after asbestos exposure at these work sites were awarded injury compensation.

The potential hazards of asbestos in schools also have led to lawsuits in Colorado. In 1984, the Adams-Arapahoe School district filed a claim against more than a dozen companies that designed, manufactured or sold asbestos materials used to build Aurora, Colorado, schools. Defendants named in the case include GAF Corp., W.R. Grace and Co. and Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corp. The district filed suit to recover the cost of removing damaged asbestos products that posed exposure risks to students and teachers.

Although jurors initially awarded compensation to the school district for the abatement costs, several defendants appealed the verdict. The decision was overturned when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit concluded the school district failed to provide sufficient evidence that asbestos in its schools caused anyone to develop an asbestos-related injury. Despite the court’s previous decision that the defendants acted negligently, Colorado law requires claimants to prove physical damage to persons or property before filing a product liability case.

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2009, January 20). Fact Sheet – Denver, CO. Retrieved from http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/sites/national_map/fact_sheets/denverco.html
  2. Federal Business Opportunities. (2011, January 14). Estes Powerplant Asbestos Abatement, Colorado-Big Thompson Project, Colorado. Retrieved from https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=2e80698b68edb30f777fc0ac948915b0
  3. United States District Court, D. Colorado. (1986, December 8). Gibson v. Armstrong World Industries, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.leagle.com/decision/19862186648FSupp1538_11955.xml
  4. Mindat.org. (n.d.). Colorado, USA. Retrieved from http://www.mindat.org/loc-3585.html
  5. U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit. (1992, March 23). Adams-Arapahoe School District v. GAF Corporation et al. Retrieved from http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/959/868/220436/
  6. U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit. (1992, March 23). Adams-Arapahoe School District v. United States Gypsum Company et al. Retrieved from https://law.resource.org/pub/us/case/reporter/F2/958/958.F2d.381.91-1046.html
  7. U.S. Geological Survey. (2014, May 21). Mineral Resources On-Line Spatial Data. Retrieved from http://mrdata.usgs.gov/asbestos/asbestos.php?mineral=tremolite
  8. Van Gosen, B. (2007). Reported Historic Asbestos Mines, Historic Asbestos Prospects, and Natural Asbestos Occurrences in the Rocky Mountain States of the United States (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved from http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1182/pdf/Plate.pdf

Share Our Page

View our resources for patients and families

Get Help Today
Click for Free Patient Resources