Babcock & Wilcox Asbestos Trust
When widespread asbestos litigation began in the 1970’s, B&W handled the lawsuits and settlement in house. But as the crush of cases came, thousands of them, B&W filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In 2006, the Babcock & Wilcox Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust was established. B&W’s trust was funded with $1.85 billion.
Over the last century Babcock & Wilcox has worked with the U.S. government on many different projects, including manufacturing boilers for the U.S. Navy. When George Babcock and Stephen Wilcox joined forces to create Babcock, Wilcox & Company in 1867, they manufactured some of the highest-quality boilers on the market. By 1902, their machinery was so superb they powered the first subway to run through New York City and the first centralized electric-generating station in the United States.
As the company made a name for itself, government leaders took notice. By 1907, the company now called Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) boilers powered a fleet of U.S. Navy battleships as they embarked on a trip around the world. That was just the beginning of B&W’s long history with government work. At the same time, B&W was continually improving its products and growing its product line. By the late 1950’s, the company moved to coal fuel. Later, B&W built components for the first nuclear submarine and mechanisms for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. B&W continues to make nuclear and oil generators today.
There are thousands of occupations that were put at risk from exposure to a B&W product. That’s because B&W generator use was so widespread. Occupations that were most at-risk for exposure include:
- Iron Pourers
- Crane Operators
- Cement Masons
- Longshore men
- Military Personnel
- Petrochemical Workers
- Railroad Workers
- Shipyard Workers
- Utility Workers
B&W’s Use of Asbestos
B&W did not manufacture asbestos products. Instead, the company purchased them from manufacturers that included the Johns-Manville Corp. Asbestos was used inside B&W’s boilers and on equipment to protect workers and equipment from the high temperatures and to ensure the thermal efficiency of the boilers. The use of asbestos was phased out in the company’s machinery beginning in the early 1970’s, the company said. Asbestos was used in conjunction with the following equipment:
- Furnace boilers
- Steam-generating boilers
- Water-tube boilers
- Insulating firebrick
- Stirling boilers
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The current payment percentage is 7.5 percent of the scheduled value for expedited and individual reviews. B&W’s asbestos trust funds, like other asbestos trust funds, only allocate a percentage of the requested amount to ensure there is enough money for all of the claimants. The average value of a mesothelioma claim is $120,000.
- B&W. History. Retrieved from http://www.babcock.com/about/Pages/History.aspx
- Electric Light & Power. Asbestos liability pushes Babcock & Wilcox to bankruptcy. Retrieved from http://www.elp.com/articles/print/volume-78/issue-3/features/industry-news/asbestos-liability-pushes-babcock-wilcox-to-bankruptcy.html