Asbestos-containing materials covered a majority of the equipment used at the Donner Hanna Coke plant. Throughout its 88 acre site, the coke ovens, phenol manufacturing facility, precarbon plant, three office buildings and a powerhouse containing five boilers all contained asbestos refractory or insulation materials. A refractory material is a non-metallic material capable of resisting high temperatures and other destructive forces present, such as slag, corrosion and abrasion. Asbestos was an ideal ingredient for refractory materials utilized as insulation surrounding high heat surfaces.

The coke ovens, manufactured by Koppers Company, Inc., handled both the conversion of coal to coke and its by-products. Dr. Heinrich Koppers and his H. Koppers Company built the first coke ovens in 1907, and by 1912 the company was incorporated in Chicago, Illinois. In 1915, the Koppers Company relocated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, establishing its research department in the Mellon Institute. In its early years, Koppers built an average of one complete coke plant every 60 days. By 1920, Koppers expanded its operations and began to process chemical by-products from coal and coke. The company continued to manufacture coke ovens, chemicals, gases, and wood products forming numerous subsidiary companies along the way. In 1944, Koppers Company, The Koppers Erecting Corporation, Koppers United Company, Fuel Investment Associates and its lesser known subsidiaries merged into Koppers Company, Inc., a publically traded corporation. Koppers continued to manufacture coke ovens, chemicals, steel and lumber throughout its worldwide facilities. In 1988, BNS Acquisitions, Inc. a subsidiary of Beazer PLC acquired the balance of Koppers Company, Inc’s common stock. In 1989, the name of Koppers Company, Inc. was changed to Beazer Materials and Services, Inc., and no longer holds divisions which construct, install and/or maintains coke ovens.

Asbestos insulation and asbestos cement were used on the insides of coke ovens to prevent the brick on the inside of the ovens from deteriorating. The asbestos refractory materials were continuously applied and removed, because even though they were an effective insulation material, they would break down under the consistent use of high heat.

Welders, bricklayers, pipefitters, millwrights, lab technicians, iron workers, steamfitters and maintenance men were all exposed to asbestos-containing materials at Donner Hanna Coke. Boilers, pipes and vessels were covered in asbestos block, cement and asbestos cloth. Pipes, vessels and tanks were also insulated with asbestos containing insulation; and, during the application and removal of the asbestos refractory and insulation products, clouds of dust, visible to the naked eye, were created.

Airborne dust created by the application and removal of these asbestos products traveled long distances. Not only those who applied these products are at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, but those who also worked in the vicinity of these units are also at risk.

Our attorneys have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos containing products to which our clients were exposed. If you or a loved one once worked at Donner Hanna Coke in Buffalo, New York, and have been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease such as mesothelioma, please contact us for a free case evaluation.