Texas cities have quite a few interesting and fun nicknames. Amarillo is called “The Big Brown Flat,” McAllen is “The Square Dance Capital City of the World” and (of course) Austin, also known as “the Live Music Capital of the World.” However, there is one area of Texas that has a slightly more disturbing nickname.
Port Arthur, Orange and Beaumont are the three cities that comprise the area of Texas better known as “Asbestos Alley.” These cities contain eight counties with annual rates of people who have died due to asbestos exposure that are two to five times higher than both the state averages and national averages.
“Asbestos Alley” is an industrial area with oil, gas, petrochemical and shipbuilding facilities. These industries have used asbestos for years to insulate heat-resistant vessels, fire-resistant buildings and facilities that contain volatile chemicals.
Why is the Mortality Rate Higher in the East Texas Area?
Diseases caused by asbestos exposure kill anywhere from 12,000-15,000 people each year in the United States. As a result, the material is no longer mined within the country. However, more than 8 million pounds has been shipped to American ports, most of which dock at the Port of Houston. Between 1999 and 2013, more than 14,000 people in Texas are killed from diseases and injuries caused by asbestos exposure. Of those deaths, more than 1,200 took place in “Asbestos Alley.”
Despite the fact that the number of deaths are already high, it is entirely possible they are supposed to be higher as asbestos is not usually listed as cause of deaths for most patients. Instead, causes of deaths are usually linked to mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer – all of which can be directly triggered by asbestos exposure.
What Does This Mean for East Texas Residents Living in “Asbestos Alley?”
Although the number of deaths associated with asbestos is especially high in this region, Corpus Christi’s Representative is currently sponsoring a bill that will delay or completely deny victims of asbestos exposure their compensation usually used for lost wages and medical bills. “The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency” Act (also known as the FACT Act) would require painstaking and costly reports on the trusts set up to help compensate victims of asbestos. The effort to produce these reports would decrease the compensation and drastically slow down all claims being processed.
Did we mention this bill is sponsored by big-name companies that stand to benefit, such as Allstate, Nationwide, Honeywell and Koch Industries? The fact is too many people are dying due to asbestos exposure in East Texas and it seems these corporations are trying to refuse responsibility for exposing them in the first place.
Aaron Allison is a personal injury attorney who helps accident victims in and around Austin.