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Asbestos Exposures at the General Dynamics Plant – Avenel, New Jersey

The General Dynamic Plant in Avenel, New Jersey housed the company’s Electro Dynamic and Electric Boat operations. Primarily a defense contractor, employees of the Avenel pant manufactured products and machines for governmental maritime, aviation and automotive needs. Additionally, private customers were served, with unique metal fabrications completed to order for various industries. As one of the largest defense contractors in the United States, General Dynamics employees, through its representation by the United Auto Workers Local 1035, formed a critically important workforce.

Spread across 27 acres, the operations of General Dynamic’s Avenel plant were diverse. Requiring specialized labor, like machinists, millwrights, welders, assemblers and metal fabricators, employees of General Dynamics manufactured some of the most critical pieces of military equipment found on vessels and aircraft. Churning out large motors, generators, and electrical ship control components, competency and skill was necessary. For decades, General Dynamic’s equipment could be found in naval warships and nuclear submarines, as well as various military aircraft and jets.

The need for acres of land for this work site was partly due to the government’s need for a completely finished product. When products like military engines were ordered, General Dynamics employees were required to produce and assemble the equipment to completion. Therefore, upon delivery, the government expected that the equipment could be installed and operated on demand. This meant that various workers were needed to install the individual components that allowed the machinery to work. Asbestos components, like gaskets, packing, raw fiber and rope, were incorporated into many of the finished products that General Dynamics delivered.

Based on these needs, the work at General Dynamics was organized into several departments. Workers in any number of departments at the Avenel plant regularly worked with and around asbestos components. Some individuals worked on the rail and truck loading bays, unloading various pieces of asbestos that was incorporated into finished products. Clerks sorted the material, and stocked it for future use. Pickers gathered the material upon demand, and delivered the asbestos products to various departments. Assemblers and line workers installed the products into the equipment. On any given day, a number of individuals may have handled the same piece of asbestos before it was installed into a finished machine.

Working with and around these materials exposed General Dynamics employees to vast amounts of asbestos dust. For example, Levy Konigsberg previously represented the family of a “parts picker” whose job was to retrieve components necessary for finished products. Not only was this individual exposed to asbestos, he unknowingly took the asbestos fibers from those products home to his family, on his soiled work clothes. Other assemblers were exposed to these components as well.

In 2013, at a Woodbridge Township council meeting, the demolition of the former General Dynamics plant was discussed, with council members noting the need for serious asbestos abatement work. For decades, companies like General Dynamics installed asbestos material, as well as other asbestos components, throughout its plant. Sprayed asbestos, pipe covering and floor tiles were installed throughout the plant, which contained high amounts of asbestos fiber. Additionally, the supporting equipment, like the valves and pumps, contained asbestos gaskets and packing. Employees regularly worked with and around these products, unaware of the dangers posed by inhalation of airborne dust.

The attorneys at Levy Konigsberg are skilled at identifying the unique asbestos exposures suffered at plants like General Dynamics. For decades, we have represented the families of hardworking employees who were negligently exposed to asbestos. If you or a loved one worked at General Dynamics’ Avenel plant and have developed an asbestos-related illness, please call today for a free consultation.

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