Founded in 1908 by Robert Yarnall (an engineer) and Bernard Waring (a traveling salesman), the Yarway Corporation was built to supply steam traps, valves and controls to the burgeoning steam-power industry. Originally called the Simplex Engineering Company, the company would change its name several times over its century-long history, first becoming the Yarnall-Waring Company and then, in 1962, embracing the moniker Yarway Corporation – a name which survives on its products to this day.
For much of its existence, Yarway designed and manufactured its world-class products out of a renovated machine works in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia, PA. After years of independent family ownership, Yarway was purchased by Keystone International in 1987; in 1997, Keystone was in turn acquired by Tyco International – a high-tech corporation with global reach, supplying a diversified list of products to both industry and consumers (among other companies, Tyco is the owner of ADT electronic security systems). Today, Tyco is a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange with more than 100,000 employees. In 2009 the company generated more than $17 billion of revenue.
Through its Flow Control product and services line, Tyco presently ranks as the largest manufacturer of valve products worldwide. The company produces a long list of goods that help the oil and gas, chemical, water, power, construction, and food and beverage industries harness the power of steam energy – and Yarway valves, controls and steam traps remain an essential part of Tyco’s revenue stream today. Current Yarway-brand products include: steam traps, control valves, liquid level gauges, boiler trim equipment, electronic liquid level systems and manometric indicators, among others.
Products Manufactured by Yarway Corporation that Contained Asbestos
From the late 19th Century until it was banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1977, asbestos played a vital role in industrial construction and the manufacture of machinery in the United States and beyond. The substance’s popularity was propelled by its remarkable ability to resist heat, as well as chemical and electrical damage. And because asbestos is naturally occurring, it provided industrial manufacturers with a relatively inexpensive means of providing nearly fail-proof insulation for products exposed to extreme heat.
Despite its nearly miraculous qualities as an industrial insulator, asbestos is now known to be extremely dangerous to humans in its airborne form. When products containing asbestos deteriorate, tiny asbestos fibers can be released into the air; these fibers can then be inhaled and/or ingested by people nearby, heightening their risk of developing asbestosis or mesothelioma cancer.
A longtime player in the power-generation industry, Yarway Corporation has acknowledged that it included asbestos-containing gaskets and packing – manufactured by others — in the production of its steam valves and traps going back to the 1920’s. The company also acknowledges that over a 30 year period of time ending in the 1970’s, it did manufacture “expansion joint packing” that was made up of a compound of Teflon and asbestos.
Yarway products that may have contained asbestos or asbestos-containing parts include (but are not limited to):
Yarway Impulse Steam Traps
Yarway Process Steam Traps
Yarway Series 40 Steam Traps
Yarway Tandem Blow-off Valves
Yarway Seatless (Simplex) Blow-off Valves
Yarway Double-Tightening Valves
Yarway Hydraulic Valves
Yarway Air Control Valves
Gun-Pakt Expansion Joints
Wrought Steel Expansion Joints
Cylinder Guided Expansion Joints
Yarway (Simplex) Pipe-Joint Clamps
Yarway Automatic Boiler Skimmer
Yarway Starting and Pressure Unloader
Yarway Adjustable Spray Head
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Individuals who worked in close proximity to Yarway products prior to the mid 1980s may be at increased risk of developing asbestos-related diseases, including malignant pleural mesothelioma. Major US corporations like Standard Oil, Carnegie Steel, Procter and Gamble, and Firestone Tires all utilized Yarway valves as part of their power generation process. Power plant workers, workers on Navy ships and in shipyards – including machinists, engineering technicians, foremen, pipefitters and boilermen – heating installation and repairmen, and oil refinery workers (in particular, stillmen and riggers) are those most likely to have worked with or near asbestos-containing Yarway steam traps, valves and other products. Locomotive and engine manufacturers and repairmen may also have come into contact with Yaway products in the course of their work.
Supervisors of these types of workers may also be at risk of developing an asbestos-related illness, as asbestos fibers released into the air during the normal course of manufacture, maintenance and repair of these asbestos-containing products could have circulated throughout the workplace. The families of these workers are also at increased risk of asbestos exposure, sadly enough. It is not uncommon to find that asbestos dust was transported into the home on workers’ clothing, posing a significant threat to anyone who then handled the contaminated fabric.
Mesothelioma is a devastating disease, with a shockingly low survival rate; the disease can take many, many years beyond exposure to show up in the human body. If you or someone you know may have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace, learn more about what symptoms to look for and what treatment may be available.
As of November 2010, Yarway Corporation, Inc. has been named as a co-defendant in numerous cases of alleged asbestos exposure across the country. Plaintiffs in these cases maintain that the asbestos-containing gaskets and packing components in Yarway steam traps, valves and other products, as well as the joint packing manufactured by Yarway itself, exposed employees to dangerous levels of airborne asbestos fiber that resulted in illness and death. Yarway Corporation remains in operation today as a subsidiary of Tyco International; the company does not presently use gaskets, packing or insulation products that are known to contain asbestos.
Power Plant Engineering, Volume 26, Part 2 (page 28)
Workshop of the World – Philadelphia
Proceedings of National Electric Light Association, Volume 44, Part 2 (page 988)
Engineers and engineering, Volume 35 (1918)