United States Communities Affected by Asbestos

Though asbestos was used in locations throughout the United States, there are several sites that have been specifically identified for asbestos removal and remediation in response to significant contamination. Many of these sites have similar profiles as asbestos company towns that experienced an economic decline after word spread of the dangers of exposure to the toxic material. The situation was only made worse with the discovery of extensive industrial waste that was left behind.

The Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania compiled a list of asbestos-affected communities in the United States. They identified the locations that were most affected, which is summarized below.

  • Ambler, Pennsylvania — Site of the White Mountains, renamed the Ambler Asbestos Piles, where numerous asbestos manufacturing and processing companies were located. Site has 25 acres of land containing 1.5 million cubic yards of asbestos waste. Placed on the National Priorities List of hazardous waste in 1986, removed from the list in 1996. Need for additional remediation discovered in 2005 at the BoRit site, which was identified as a Superfund site in 2009 and continued through 2016.
  • Walpole, Massachusetts — Site of the Blackburn and Union Privileges site where asbestos manufacturing took place between 1915 and 1937. The area was particularly affected by groundwater contamination. Asbestos removal began in 1988 and 1992 and resumed in 2009. It is ongoing today.
  • Beltsville, Maryland — Site of a W.R. Grace/Zonolite facility that processed asbestos-contaminated vermiculite from 1966 to the 1990s. Site inspection determined that there is no current risk of contamination, though the area is still being investigated and there is significant concern about former workers and their families.
  • Waukegan, Illinois — Site of a Johns Manville asbestos manufacturing plant that operated from the 1920s to the 1980s. Extensive cleanup was done in 2000 and 2001, and more contamination was discovered and is the subject of continuing cleanup.
  • Northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota —Site of the Western Mineral Products vermiculite insulation manufacturing plant that operated from 1930 to the 1980s. Waste products containing high levels of asbestos were disposed of outside of the facility and offered for community use.
  • Northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota — Site of Tremolite Asbestos Site where residential properties were found to be contaminated with asbestos and subject to clean up from 2000 to 2003. More trace levels were identified in 2010.
  • St. Louis, Missouri — Site of the Carter Carburetor Site where gasoline and diesel carburetors were manufactured using asbestos between 1915 and 1984. Asbestos removal began in 2013, and environmental testing is ongoing.
  • Dallas, Texas — Site of W.R. Grace & Company’s Texas Vermiculite Site, which exfoliated vermiculite from Libby, Montana between 1953 and 1992.
  • Lincoln County, Montana — Site of the W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine, which became an EPA Superfund site in 2002 and which continues to undergo cleanup and testing.
  • Santa Clara, California — South Bay Asbestos Area was the site of a 550-acre area that served as an asbestos dumping site for the asbestos cement pipe manufacturing industry for over three decades. The area was also contaminated with waste asbestos piping that was used for emergency drainage following flooding and through asbestos-contaminated soil that was brought in for grading. The local water was contaminated with this asbestos. The area became a Superfund National Priority Site in 1983 and cleanup is ongoing.
  • Coalinga, California — Site of the Coalinga Asbestos Company, a 120-acre asbestos mill site that operated between 1962 and 1975, as well as the nearby Atlas Asbestos Mine. The site included a 20-acre mine waste tailings pile, as well as a transport route that ran between the mile and the Atlas Asbestos mine 16 miles away. Cleanup began in 1991 and stopped in 1998.

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