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Fletcher Paper Mill

Located in Alpena County, Michigan


Once located in Alpena, Michigan, at the mouth of the Thunder Bay River, the Fletcher Paper Mill is a source of asbestos exposure, Mesothelioma and other asbestos related cancers. Initially in 1858, George N. Fletcher constructed a sawmill and port to transport raw and finished materials. In the 1880’s as the lumber boom began to wane, George and his sons began to lay the foundations for what would become the Fletcher Paper Mill.

A sulfite fiber mill was erected in 1886 and later, in 1898, the paper mill itself. The mill would operate as a Sulphite and Paper Mill until 1938. With the closure of the sulfite mill, Fletcher Paper began purchasing wood pulp. The company claimed that by not having a pulp mill gave them some advantage over the competition as they were able to blend several different pulps and able to produce to a better-quality paper.

The Fletcher Paper Mill continued in operation until 2003. At its highest point of operation, Fletcher Paper produced approximately 30,000 tons of light weight printing paper per year. The paper would be used in things such as bibles, offset, carbon papers, and more.

While in operation, Fletcher Paper Mill, ran two paper machines. In the 1940’s/1950’s additional dryers, new drives, and equipment which allowed the mill to increase its production of finished paper from 16,000 tons to over 20,000 tons per year. With the addition of new equipment came the need for additional power at the mill. A new 2,500 KW steam turbine was added to the mill and connected to the Alpena Power Company system. The Fletcher Paper Distribution Substation was also built.

The plant had various buildings and departments including the paper manufacturing, finishing, shipping, and a Powerhouse. In addition, there was a turbine generator in the Powerhouse. The Powerhouse provided steam for the paper making process and electricity for running equipment in the plant.

There were 3 boilers in the Powerhouse, 2 were coal fired and one was bark burning boiler. There were stokers that provided the coal for the 2 coal burning boilers. The boilers, turbines, pipelines were all insulated with asbestos-containing block, pipecovering, and cement. Numerous other auxiliary equipment was insulated with asbestos materials in addition to the use of gaskets and packing for sealing pipelines, pumps, and valves in addition to the other equipment.

The Coating Department also had a package boiler. Due to the paper making process asbestos was used extensively and located thru out the plant on condensers, compressors, the digestors, evaporators, heat exchangers, fans, pumps, pipelines, valves, and other equipment including the paper machines and the pulp making equipment. Asbestos-containing brakes, blankets, clothing, clutches, gaskets, steam hoses, steam joints, composite pipes, packing and other asbestos-materials were used.

Fletcher Paper Mill workers were exposed to a number of asbestos products such as: 

Asbestos was used in products such as paper machine dryer felts, pipe coverings, chemical pipe, building materials, insulation, gaskets, packing and brakes used in paper mill machinery in mills that were built between the 1900s and 1970s.

Insulation: Asbestos-containing block, cements and pipecovering used on boilers, blowers, condensers, digesters, evaporators, heat exchangers, piping, pumps, and turbines.

Paper and Pulp Mill Equipment:  such as boilers, compressors, heat exchangers, fans, stokers, paper machines, turbines, pumps, valves and also had asbestos-containing materials including brakes, dryer felts, gaskets, packing, steam hoses and joints.

Building materials: Industrial adhesives, ceiling and floor tiles, paint, corrugated roofing and siding.

 Occupational exposures to asbestos at Fletcher:

Asbestos exposure in paper mills occurs through construction and equipment maintenance. Because pulping, recovery, and boiler operations involve high heat and steam asbestos was used to insulate boilers, piping systems, turbines and other vessels, which maintenance and production workers often came into contact with. Maintenance personnel were also at a high risk of exposure because asbestos gaskets, hoses, packing and other materials were present in the mill machinery that they were required to inspect and repair.  The various materials used to build paper mills such as industrial adhesives, ceiling and floor tiles, insulated piping contained asbestos, and if workers encountered deteriorating materials, they may have been exposed to and inhaled asbestos fibers.

Maintenance workers were not the only paper mill employees at risk of asbestos exposure.   Just working inside the plant posed a threat to asbestos exposure because the large amount of asbestos dust that collected in the air could be inhaled by any worker in the plant.

Production workers also were exposed during the making of the paper on the machines which included a drying process where asbestos containing dryer felts or fabrics are used to enhance the production of high-speed paper machines. After the pulp passes through the initial chemical and mechanical processing stages, the paper product is run through the paper machine and the dryer sections remove the leftover moisture. During daily routine operations and maintenance, asbestos dust was released from dryer felts in dryer machines. When the dryer felts had to be replaced, workers were exposed to asbestos particles when they hand cut and fitted the new felt into the machines. The paper machine sections are often run by steam turbines which drive line shafts. Each line shaft has a brake and clutch system.

Once these fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in organ tissues and remain there throughout a worker’s life. The accumulation of these fibers can cause fibrosis and scarring that lead to the development of Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses 10 – 40 years later.  Even if you smoked you may be entitled to compensation if you are suffering from an asbestos related disease.

There are numerous departments and occupations exposed to asbestos including:

Maintenance: Construction and Maintenance Mechanics, Electricians, Insulators, Machinists, Oilers, Painters, Pipefitters, Welders and other trades. They construct, maintain, and repair the equipment throughout the plant.

Powerhouse: Boiler and Turbine Operators, and Maintenance Men, they operate and monitor the boilers, turbines, condensers, and compressors.

Material Handling: Hi-Lo Operators, Crane Operators, Equipment Operators, Laborers, Sludge Operators and Tractor Operators. They handle and move the logs, chips, and sludge for the mill.

Wood Processing: Chipman, Chip Plant Operator, Liquors Mixer, Operators, and Utility Workers. They operate and monitor the chipper and send processed wood to pulp mill.

Pulp Mill: Effluent Treater, Pulp Operator and Secondary Treatment. They cook the wood chips into pulp and treat it with chemicals.

Paper Mill Machine: Back Tender, Beater Room Operator and Helper, Brakeman, Paper Machine Tender. They take the pulp and turn it into paper through the various sections on the paper machine.

Shipping: Car loader, Power Trucker, Trackmobile Operator and Weigher. Prepare the paper for shipping to customers.

Maintenance Foreman and Supervisors:  They schedule and supervise the maintenance and repair of the papermill buildings and equipment.

Truck and Tractor Operators: They operate truck and or tractors to move raw materials (forest logs), chips and equipment in the mill.

First Line Supervisors/Managers Production and Operating Workers: They directly supervise and coordinate production and operations employees (Precision Workers, Inspectors, Machine Setters and Operators, Assemblers, Fabricators, and Plant and System Operators.

Industrial Production Managers: They plan coordinate or direct the manufacturing process.

Engineers – They coordinate, plan and schedule construction and maintenance projects.

If you or a loved one have questions regarding asbestos exposure at Fletcher Paper Company or anywhere in Alpena, we have Michigan based and licensed lawyers with over 50 combined years of experience that would be able to assist you. John Kelsey and John Pomerville are Asbestos & Mesothelioma Attorneys in Goldberg Persky & White’s Michigan offices and have been representing Michigan asbestos victims in the lower and upper peninsulas for over 25 years. They are very knowledgeable in regard to asbestos exposure at Fletcher Paper Mill, Mesothelioma and the other asbestos diseases caused by asbestos exposure. If you have any questions concerning your exposure to asbestos and mesothelioma at Fletcher Paper Company in Alpena, call our Michigan-based mesothelioma lawyers, they may be able to give guidance if you were exposed to asbestos in Alpena.

If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma you should immediately speak with an experienced Michigan based Lawyer to preserve your legal rights as this is a time sensitive matter and knowing the facts will help you make the best medical and legal decisions possible and help you recover financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

We have represented people injured by exposure to asbestos whose work histories include Fletcher Paper Company in Alpena, Michigan. Our extensive database of jobsites and asbestos product identification built over 30 years of specializing in asbestos lawsuits allows us to represent effectively and efficiently those injured by asbestos in the workplace.

Why does it matter that Fletcher Paper Company is in our jobsites database?

In order to successfully pursue an asbestos claim, your lawyer needs to be familiar with the jobsites you worked at, including

  • the companies that employed you,
  • the products they purchased and used, and
  • the companies who produced those products;
  • depositions, testimony of other Alpena Asbestos disease victims
  • documentation from the Plant and Defendants

After more than 30 years pioneering asbestos litigation, we have a vast knowledgebase covering things such as company diagrams, invoices from asbestos product manufacturers, revealing company memos demonstrating their knowledge of the risks, asbestos product packaging through the years, depositions from leading experts, and medical and scientific literature dating from the late 1800s to the current day.

Fletcher Paper Company is one of tens of thousands of jobsites in our database.

Being familiar with many different industries, manufacturers, and products means we can efficiently and effectively identify all the asbestos containing products that contributed to your injury. It’s a breadth of knowledge gained from years of experience representing people injured by asbestos and their families.

Asbestos Exposure Injuries

Asbestos exposure can cause a variety of non-cancerous and cancerous injuries such as:

  • mesothelioma
  • lung cancer
  • colon and colo-rectal cancers
  • throat cancer
  • laryngeal cancer
  • esophageal cancer
  • asbestosis/ pulmonary fibrosis

We have successfully represented hundreds of Michigan Asbestos Victims including Fletcher Paper Company Employees and Michigan Labor Union members in lawsuits against the responsible asbestos product manufactures. Millions of dollars in compensation have been recovered for our asbestos disease clients. We have the resources and experience to take on the Asbestos Industry and demand fair compensation for you.

Did you work at Fletcher Paper Company in Alpena, Michigan? Have you been injured by asbestos? Contact us today for a FREE, no obligation consultation: 1-800-799-2234.

Other jobsites in and around Alpena with significant asbestos exposure includes Abitibi/Decorative Panels, LaForge/Huron Portland Cement, Alpena Power Company, Maritime/Merchant Marine work, and many more.