Former Tennessee State Senator Ray Albright, whose work was integral in rejuvenating the city of Chattanooga, has revealed that he’s dying from an asbestos-caused disease, prompted by exposure that occurred when he was a young man seeking employment to help him care for his growing family.
According to a report by News Channel 9 Chattanooga, Ray Albright, a long-time member of the Tennessee General Assembly, told the station that his life has been turned upside down by exposure to asbestos that began in 1953.
At that time, Albright was struggling to make ends meet so he took a good-paying job at Combustion Engineering, where he was charged with the task of making covers for boilers.
As part of his job, he cut through steel and asbestos-containing materials with a band saw, spreading toxic dust throughout the air, where it was likely inhaled by Albright and others who worked with him or around him.
“It was so thick you couldn’t see 10 feet in front of you, hardly,” says Albright, who worked at that job for 19 years, leaving in 1972. Some forty years later, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Today, he struggles to catch a solid breath.
Albright, along with several hundred of his co-workers, have already sued Combustion Engineering, convinced that the company’s management knew about the dangerous working conditions yet offered no solutions to protect workers.
“I planned my life, my wife and I did, to have a good life. A life that we wouldn’t have any problems. It just doesn’t work out,” Albright explained.
David Bashor, a Chattanooga-based asbestos removal expert, added that the former senator and his co-workers aren’t alone in their fight. Since Chattanooga was once a major industrial city, thousands suffered asbestos exposure on the job.
In addition, many of the city’s old buildings contain asbestos, so the mineral continues to be a problem for construction companies who are rejuvenating some of the city’s most treasured historic sites.
Many other former industrial cities struggle similarly. In locations such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Scranton, Buffalo, Youngstown, Detroit, St. Louis, and several other towns that were once ruled by industry, former employees from industries such as steel and auto works are dying of occupational diseases such as mesothelioma.
For those individuals, a lifetime of hard work has turned into a retirement spent visiting doctors and hospitals and struggling to stay alive. It’s not what they expected to be doing during their “golden” years.
“There’s no cure for what I have.” Albright told the news reporter. “And you’re going to die. It’s just a matter of time.”
In the meantime, his suit against Combustion Engineering is still pending. His doctors believe he may not be around long enough to see the outcome.