If you worked at one of the old vermiculite ore processing plants in downtown Salt Lake City, call the Utah Department of Health at 538-6191. Your life may depend on it. 

And while you're on the phone, tell them "Thanks a lot." Say it sarcastically. The health department has known for at least six years that former employees could contract respiratory diseases – asbestosis, mesothelioma and other forms of lung cancer – related to the inhalation of asbestos fibers from ore mined from a unique,asbestos-laden vein in Libby, Mont., and processed at the facilities, which closed in the 1980s.Yet it never went public in its search.

Beginning in 2001, as part of a federally funded study to determine if cancer clusters exist in a two-mile radius of the plants, the department mounted a fruitless search for former employees, who had the greatest exposure and run the highest risk.

Unable to acquire payroll records from the defunct owner, W.R. Grace and Co., the department called the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration. It contacted the Utah Tax Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and various business licensing agencies. But it never called the news media, which would have publicized the warnings to former employees for free.

Now, six years later, after the study has concluded and news accounts were written, several former employees have learned of the danger and contacted the health department.

They are advised to see a physician, and are questioned about the whereabouts of their co-workers. But with diseases for which early detection is crucial to survival, the department shouldn't have been dragging its feet.

Dr. Wayne Ball, the lead epidemiologist at the department, said contacting the media during the study is not part of the "procedure." He said the study took six years and the final reports were delayed because the federal grant only paid for a part-time employee. He said everything but "Sorry."

We have our suspicions, unconfirmed, about why they didn't put the word out to the public. They didn't want to create a panic. Even a $7.1 million federal super fund cleanup of the plant sites at 333 W. 100 South and 733 W. 800 South was kept quiet. And while it was finally determined that people who lived around the plants are probably not at risk, former employees have been walking around with time bombs ticking in their chests.

The health department needs to do another study, an examination of the way it does business. It needs to concentrate on preventing deaths, not just studying them.



We're here to help!

We live by our creed of "helping those who need it most" and have helped thousands of clients get the justice they desperately needed and deserved. If you feel you have a case or just have questions please contact us for a free consultation. There is no risk and no fees unless we win for you.

Fields marked    may be required for submission.
  1. I'm an attorney

Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2017 proposed in Senate

At the end of October, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would be adjusting the...

EPA limits reach of toxic chemical evaluations

The EPA is reneging on promises to evaluate some of the most dangerous chemicals used by the public,...

Prevention remains the only way to end mesothelioma...

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that can affect the lining of the heart, the lining of the abdomen or,...

Controversial FACT Act headed to House floor for vote

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017 (FACT Act) or H.R. 906, uses the guise of...
asbestos dust hazard perimeter tape

Canada joins countries implementing asbestos bans

Asbestos, a group of fibrous silicate minerals, is a known carcinogen and is closely linked to the...

Asbestos in schools poses mesothelioma risk. Who is...

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 15 million students and 1.4...

A special thanks

A special thanks to your law firm and staff for all the work done on the Vioxx case. The settlement could not have come at a better time for my family and myself. I thank you for a job well done!

—George