Quick Facts About Asbestos in North Dakota
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About North Dakota

North Dakota has a low death rate from asbestos-related diseases. It is the third least-populated state in the nation, with much of its economy based on agriculture.

States with the highest rates have economies driven by mining, manufacturing or other industry. But, North Dakota residents still face an increased risk of asbestos exposure.

Natural disasters, natural deposits and hazardous job sites present risks. Toxic asbestos may be as close to residents as within the four walls of their North Dakota homes. Homes and buildings across the state contain asbestos construction materials.

Asbestos lawsuits are not common in North Dakota despite known instances of exposure. The state’s asbestos litigation laws present challenges to asbestos plaintiffs. For example, in 2021, North Dakota legislators passed a bill affecting plaintiffs. It requires them to submit evidence for each defendant when filing an asbestos claim. This step often happens after filing the claim.

Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. Montana hospitals and surrounding states offer treatment for these conditions.

Occupations and Environmental Areas at Risk in North Dakota

Occupational asbestos exposure in the state stems from construction and industrial jobs.

Occupations with asbestos exposure hazards:

  • Insulators
  • Construction workers
  • Industrial plant workers
  • Power generation workers
  • Agricultural workers and farmers
  • Oil refinery workers

Job Sites with Known Asbestos Exposure

Occupational exposure refers to an employee’s interaction with asbestos in the workplace. Despite North Dakota’s relatively low number of mesothelioma cases, some places within the state still face a serious threat. Certain job sites have had confirmed cases of asbestos exposure where the full extent of harm is still not yet known.

Robinson Insulation Plant

Located in Minot, North Dakota, the former Robinson Insulation Plant was a job site where employees were exposed to hazardous levels of asbestos. From 1967 and 1983, the plant housed over 16,000 tons of asbestos-containing vermiculite. The surrounding areas of the plant consisted of industrial, residential and commercial sites.

Environmental samples from the Robinson Insulation Plant showed that some of the asbestos came from a mine in Libby, Montana. The city purchased the buildings and demolished them. All former employees of the plant should undergo medical testing to identify any potential health issues on an annual basis.

Asbestos-tainted vermiculite from Libby, Montana, went to three other cities in North Dakota. The vast majority of it went to Stanton and Minot.

Minot and Widespread Flooding

In the summer of 2011, agencies warned homeowners in the city of Minot and surrounding areas that asbestos exposure was a serious threat. Homes that were destroyed by recent floods possibly contained asbestos.

By some accounts, the floods of 2011 were the worst floods in the state’s history. More than 11,000 residents were evacuated and more than 4,000 homes were damaged. The underlying environmental threat existed within the materials in the homes. Some homes likely contained asbestos in either the foundation of the structure or in various products throughout the home.

Zonolite insulation, a branded form of vermiculite-containing asbestos material, was of major concern for local health organizations. This attic insulation was likely used in thousands of homes in the state during previous decades, where it likely remains today.

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Asbestos Fines in North Dakota

Illegal handling of asbestos projects in North Dakota may result in steep fines and possibly jail time.

For example, the owner of Meide & Son pleaded guilty in 1998 to illegally removing and disposing of asbestos-containing materials during renovations to the Ben Franklin and Action Reaction Sports stores in Wahpeton, North Dakota. Jerry Meide was sentenced to 10 months in jail with one year of supervision upon release. He was also ordered to pay $200,000, which included the cost of asbestos cleanup and a $100,000 fine.