Asbestos in Wyoming
Although Wyoming ranks low for total number of asbestos-related deaths, the state's mesothelioma incidence rate is among the nation's highest. Wyoming is one of six states where more than 20 people out of every million die from mesothelioma each year. Many of these deaths may be the result of occupational exposure to asbestos at one of Wyoming's many industrial worksites, such as refineries, power plants and mines.
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How to Cite Asbestos.com’s Article
Whitmer, M. (2023, March 20). Asbestos in Wyoming. Asbestos.com. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from https://www.asbestos.com/states/wyoming/
Whitmer, Michelle. "Asbestos in Wyoming." Asbestos.com, 20 Mar 2023, https://www.asbestos.com/states/wyoming/.
Whitmer, Michelle. "Asbestos in Wyoming." Asbestos.com. Last modified March 20, 2023. https://www.asbestos.com/states/wyoming/.
Four processing plants in Wyoming received contaminated materials from the W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana. It received more than 8,851 tons of Libby’s asbestos-tainted vermiculite.
Refinery workers at these plants processed, transported, heated, packaged and shipped the mineral. Wyoming’s vermiculite processing plants put workers in danger of developing asbestos-related diseases. Examples include mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Residents of Wyoming also face asbestos exposure risks in old buildings throughout the state. In December 2021, city officials in Cheyenne, Wyoming, delayed the purchase of an old motel because of asbestos concerns. An asbestos removal project is necessary for safe demolition or renovation. It will cost an estimated $2.1 million.
Occupations at Risk in Wyoming
Wyoming’s abundant petroleum sources made it a hotspot for refineries. Workers at these refineries often worked with high-temperature machines insulated with asbestos. Construction workers came in contact with contaminated tiles, panels or insulation.
Power station workers were also at an elevated risk of inhaling asbestos.
Refineries and power plants used asbestos insulation. The workers faced exposure threats when fixing damaged machinery or renovating the buildings.
Job Sites with Known Exposure
Commercial asbestos mining in Wyoming peaked between 1905 and 1921. Casper Mountain was the largest such mine in the state, producing fibers of more than an inch in length. More than half of the material in the serpentine deposits at Casper Mountain was asbestos.
Other deposits included:
- Brown Bear
- Smith Creek
- Laramie Mountain
- Fire King
- Beaver Creek
The Fire King deposit specialized in producing chrysotile blocks for chimneys. Smith Creek and Casper Mountain’s asbestos went to flooring manufacturers.
Frontier Oil and Sinclair Oil are two prominent oil refineries in Wyoming. The refineries, both built prior to the 1970s, used asbestos during construction. Over the decades, the workplaces exposed countless individuals to the hazardous fiber.
Other oil refineries in Wyoming included:
- Consumer Oil
- Fargo Oil
- Continental Oil
- Mutual Oil Company
Coal refineries were also scattered across the state. Like oil refineries, these facilities were home to large quantities of asbestos-insulated equipment.
Vermiculite refineries were also a significant part of Wyoming’s industrial economy. Four refineries received shipments of Libby’s contaminated vermiculite. Workers at these refineries handled as many as 221 shipments of vermiculite from the W.R. Grace mine.
Wyoming’s vermiculite refineries were located in:
Black Hills Power’s facility in Osage was constructed with asbestos insulation around its boilers. Anyone who worked for the company prior to 1993 may have been exposed to the toxic mineral. By 1993, however, the company had completed an abatement project. Although some encapsulated asbestos was left in place, the facility was deemed safe.
Similarly, PacifiCorp’s Dave Johnston Power Plant was built with asbestos insulation surrounding the boiler machinery. In 2007, the company began installing air pollution control equipment to help reduce the risk of exposure to various contaminants.
University of Wyoming
The University of Wyoming had asbestos materials. The Department of Environmental Quality issued a violation in 2009. It was for failing to conduct asbestos inspections. And failing to remove asbestos-contaminated materials before demolishing several campus buildings. As a result, asbestos-containing materials got scattered during the demolition.