Some businesses cause catastrophic environmental damage and then close their doors and file bankruptcy when their terrible business practices and the financial impact they’ve caused finally comes to light. That certainly seems to be the case for residents living on the west side of Davidson, North Carolina.
There is an old, single-story brick building on Depot Street in Davidson that has stood there since 1890. Now known as the Metrolina Warehouse, this facility was previously a cotton mill and then later an asbestos factory for thirty years. While the asbestos company has not occupied that facility since 1960, community residents still have to deal with dangerous asbestos contamination decades later.
The company simply buried dangerous materials, leaving the problem for others
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral substance that is a known human carcinogen. When inhaled or exposed to mucous membranes, it can cause damage to the body that later produces serious cancers. However, since it has flame-retardant properties and serves as a good insulator, it has been a component in a wide assortment of industrial products.
When medical advances made the connection between asbestos and many serious illnesses, such as mesothelioma clear, the laws about this mineral changed. The government enacted restrictions on the use of asbestos as well as protections for employees handling it, but the Carolina Asbestos company that operated in Davidson closed well before such restrictions went into place.
While they were open for business, they simply buried waste material and covered it with a soil cap. There is even a hill that the local community calls Mystery Hill which has produced soil samples containing up to 70% asbestos in the past. State officials worried that it could cost millions of dollars to properly remediate the asbestos affecting what is now partially a residential area.
Legal action holds unscrupulous businesses accountable for the damage they cause
Many companies that previously worked with or continue to work with asbestos do so because they assume they can sidestep their financial and legal obligations for the dangers of the materials they use. Far too many employees, consumers and community members endangered and sickened by questionable business practices choose to do nothing.
Taking action by bringing a civil suit against an existing business contaminating an environment with asbestos or a former employer who failed to provide workers with adequate protection against asbestos exposure not only helps you by allowing you the potential to connect with compensation for the health implications of asbestos exposure, but it can also protect other members of your community by encouraging them to step forward and creating financial and legal consequences for the business.