At first glance, a recent meeting in Lackawanna, Pennsylvania might have looked like a reunion of former Bethlehem Steel workers, but in fact, the group was gathering to discuss their concerns about the asbestos exposure that they were subjected to when they worked for the steelmaking company.
A remarkable number of those who were present are diagnosed with asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. Others are concerned that it is only a matter of time before they start to show symptoms of one of those illnesses.
Though the group came together to learn about their legal rights, much of their time was spent discussing their symptoms and the resources that are available to victims of asbestos exposure and asbestos-related disease.
Others reminisced about the extent to which asbestos was present in their working environment, marveling at the fact that the company knew the material was dangerous and took no action to protect them.
Gerald Noznisky is 83 years old, and the former blast furnace said, “It was flying all over the place, and I was inhaling it.” Today he suffers from a variety of lung ailments.
Asbestos Exposure Victims Discuss Their Working Conditions and Their Lawsuits
At the meeting of Bethlehem Steel retirees, many discussed the outcomes of asbestos exposure lawsuits that they had filed. One employee who had only spent seven years at the plant said that he had never worked with asbestos anywhere else, and now he has been diagnosed with asbestosis and needs constant oxygen.
Another, 66-year-old Frank Kwiatkowski, said that he remembers grinding and shaping asbestos in the company’s coke ovens so that it could be molded as insulation onto pipes. The former millwright, pipe fitter and welder said, “Some days, you would walk in, and it was like it was snowing.” One of his colleagues, James Didas, agreed, saying, “The coke ovens were the worst place to work.” Both men are currently healthy but say that the same is not true of many of their former colleagues, who are either ill or who have already died as a result of their asbestos exposure.