The Asbestos Manufacturing Capital of the World – Ambler, Pennsylvania

The Asbestos Manufacturing Capital of the World – Ambler, Pennsylvania

Asbestos manufacturing in Ambler, Pennsylvania dates back to the 1880s, when entrepreneurs Richard Mattison and Henry Keasbey relocated their asbestos manufacturing company, K&M, to the area. Drawn by the steady supply of spring water, limestone, and the recent railroad development, the pair thought Ambler would be the perfect location to get their business off the ground. In 1896, the nation’s first asbestos textile plant was built. The plant produced a litany of asbestos-containing products such as insulation for boiler houses and steam locomotives, fireproof curtains, brake linings, and roof shingles. The company continued to be a roaring success until the 1929 stock market crash. Unable to sustain operations, Mattison sold K&M to Tuner & Newall in 1934.

Asbestos production continued in Ambler for decades after, and much like Libby, Montana, the town revolved around those factories and thrived. Those who worked with the asbestos fibers recall the dust and airborne fibers covering the factories in which they worked. In the textile plant, raw asbestos fibers were spun by hand into yarn and used for gaskets, brake linings, and insulation. Ventilation fans were practically non-apparent, making the textile factories one of the most dangerous places to work. Factory workers would come home daily, covered from head to toe in friable asbestos fibers. Their wives would launder their clothes – further contaminating the home and exposing all who lived in the household as well.

Ambler Asbestos Piles Superfund Site
Asbestos-contaminated waste piles produced from the factories were used as dumping grounds for the carcinogen for nearly 40 years. These piles, nick-named the “White Mountains,” due to their monstrosity, were completely exposed to the public, including children. Residents who grew up in the area remember playing on top of the White Mountains, throwing shingles and pretending the area was quicksand. These White Mountains eventually became known as the Ambler Asbestos Piles: three large piles of asbestos waste approximately 25 acres in size that contained both solid and liquid asbestos waste.

As evidence continued to show the health dangers of asbestos, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began restricting production, and importation in the 1970s. By 1986, the Ambler Asbestos Piles Superfund Site was added to the EPA’s National Priority List, as it was reported that mesothelioma rates in Ambler residents were 3.1 times higher than the rest of Pennsylvania. In being on this list, the area was eligible for clean-up using funding from the federal Superfund program. The Superfund Site was completed in 1993, but to be safe, the area is still inspected every five years. Its last inspection in 2012 did not reveal any threats.

Bo-Rit Asbestos Superfund Site
Despite decades of knowing that asbestos causes cancer, it took years for the EPA to place another asbestos-waste piles site on the National Priorities List. The BoRit site was added in 2009 and clean-up is expected to wrap up in 2017. This site includes a 2.5- acre waste pile, an 11-acre reservoir, and 11-acre former park area. Asbestos-containing material was dumped at this site for nearly 60 years and some residents are concerned that not enough is being done to ensure it can be completely eradicated. Asbestos waste is still buried and could potentially be exposed to the public through natural disasters such as flooding, trees being uprooted, or even animals burrowing.

Recently, the EPA announced that it is nearly complete with its clean-up efforts after deciding to go with a capping option, which is capping the asbestos in place, rather than removing the carcinogen completely. Clean-up efforts are expected to wrap up in August 2017 because of this.

Building and maintenance workers, regular home owners and citizens, and even school children are all entitled to be protected from the dangers of asbestos. If you are suffering from an asbestos-related illness and are unsure if you have ever been exposed, contact the attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C.. For over 30 years we have represented many individuals throughout the US who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related diseases. As a result of this focus, our mesothelioma lawyers have the knowledge and experience to fight for the best possible asbestos compensation. Contact us today for a free no obligation consultation.


United States Environmental Protection Agency, “What the EPA is Doing in Ambler, Pennsylvania.” [Link]
United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Superfund Site, BoRit Asbestos, Ambler, Pennsylvania.” [Link]

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