History of the Willamette Iron & Steel Yard

Willamette Iron Works, later the Willamette Iron & Steel Yard, was founded in Portland, Oregon following the Civil War in 1865. Willamette Iron Works was a small industrial ship company that focused on vessel construction and repair. In 1904, the site became known as the Willamette Iron & Steel Yard and produced iron and steel. The Willamette Iron & Steel Yard formed an important part of the Portland economy and employed hundreds of people.

During both the First and Second World Wars, the Willamette Iron & Steel Yard incorporated new naval technologies into its ship repair and construction. The Willamette Iron & Steel Yard made an invaluable contribution to the war effort by servicing many naval ships and auxiliaries including:

  • Submarine chasers
  • Patrol boats
  • Minesweepers
  • Light boats

After the World Wars, the Willamette Iron & Steel Yard served predominantly as a ship repair and maintenance yard. Occasionally the site would be contracted for small vessel projects but closed in the 1990s due to reduced demand for its services.

Asbestos & the Willamette Iron & Steel Yard

Unfortunately, many Willamette Iron & Steel Yard workers in Oregon may have been exposed to asbestos during their employment. U.S. shipyards, including Willamette Iron & Steel, frequently used asbestos in shipyard operations. Prior to the 1980s, the health dangers of asbestos exposure were largely unknown. Willamette Iron & Steel Yard workers did not take special precautions to prevent asbestos exposure because they did not know it was dangerous.

Shipyard workers have developed severe and potentially fatal health problems due to asbestos exposure. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can cause inflammation, cancerous growths, or other symptoms that can be fatal. These asbestos-related diseases include:

  • lung cancer
  • asbestosis
  • Mesothelioma (a cancer of the protective lining that covers most of the body’s internal organs, including the lungs)

Asbestos-related diseases, including Mesothelioma, can remain asymptomatic for decades. Notify your physician if you worked on building, repairing, or demolishing ships ridden with asbestos at the Willamette Iron & Steel Yard. In the past two decades, authorities estimate 862 deaths in Oregon due to asbestos-related diseases. Many shipyard workers diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases have turned to asbestos lawyers for help. Lawsuits brought by shipyard workers who were injured by asbestos have been successfully litigated around the country, awarding asbestos victims with compensation for their injuries.

Asbestos Injuries at Willamette Iron & Steel – Oregon

If you or a loved were exposed to asbestos at the Willamette Iron & Steel Yard and have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, contact us today to determine if you have a case and are entitled to compensation.

Published November 17, 2011 by