By now everyone in the United States is aware of the dangers of asbestos. In many instances, asbestos class-actions have been going on for years, even decades. Even with all of the precautions and knowledge about asbestos, there are still ways asbestos contamination is being discovered. One such discovery of asbestos is in the presence of drilling mud. Drilling mud, also called drilling fluid, is a fluid mixture used in oil and gas operations to carry rock and lubricate the drill bit. Drilling muds are a combination of water, diesel oils, and a mix of synthetic-based muds. Such mud is pumped into the drilled hole and, through hydrostatic pressure, is brought back to the surface to prevent collapse of the rock layers and water intrusion into the drill pipe.
Asbestos has been used in drilling mud from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. Because of its heat resistance, it was a good substance used to cool the drill bit. The tragedy is that many workers have been exposed to asbestos during these years are now suffering from asbestos–related cancers, like mesothelioma. At the time, there were little to no protections against exposure to the substance.
Lawsuits have been filed regarding oil companies’ alleged knowledge of the risk of exposure to such mud. One case resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars awarded to the plaintiff who was exposed to this mud during his years working on the oil field. In Louisiana, ten plaintiff employees have filed a lawsuit alleging their employer knowingly exposed them to the risk of asbestos exposure. International lawsuits have also been filed over the use of asbestos-containing products used in oil and gas work.
One of the major products that was causing problems is Flosal. Flosal was produced by the Chevron Phillips Chemical Company and contained as much as ninety-five percent asbestos and was used to increase the viscosity of the mud. Many workers were injured from inhaling the substance. Lawsuits included the injuries sustained but also product liability claims about the product being defective and an inadequate warning for its use.
Other issues include contamination into the environment. Drilling fluids and the fracking process in general have been known to use many chemicals that are toxic to the environment, even without the use of asbestos. The drilling fluids can seep into water supplies and into the soil and air. This can bring nuisance suits from nearby residents.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.