Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma in South Dakota

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South Dakota does not see widespread deposits of asbestos—a naturally forming mineral that is known to cause the deadly cancer, mesothelioma. Ranked 41st in the U.S. for asbestosis and mesothelioma deaths, South Dakota sees far fewer cases of asbestos exposure than in other states. It’s reported that from 1999-2015, just over 100 residents in South Dakota died of mesothelioma.

However, anyone who inhales or ingests airborne asbestos fibers is at risk for developing mesothelioma, and there are certain industrial areas in South Dakota and specific consumer products that may have released asbestos fibers into the environment, exposing workers and residents.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos refers to six “naturally occurring” microscopic, fibrous minerals that can resist most chemical breakdowns and are resistant to heat and fire. Due to their strength and durability, these fibers were combined with many products to make them stronger. Because asbestos was used in so many manufactured consumer goods, there were many occupations that put workers at risk for exposure—thus, putting them at risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.

South Dakota Industries That May Have Exposed Workers to Asbestos

There are a number of industries and areas in South Dakota where workers may have been exposed to deadly asbestos fibers, including employees of auto repair facilities. Asbestos is used in brake and clutch components, and employees who work with these parts may inhale these deadly fibers. Other industries include:


Because agriculture is the primary industry in South Dakota, there are over 19 million acres of land used for crops and 23 million acres used as pastures. The machinery and equipment used to maintain them has been known to contain asbestos, and some of the farms use agricultural fillers that may contain asbestos.

Power Plants

Asbestos can be found in the walls of several of South Dakota’s power generation facilities, including Pathfinder Power Plant, Angus Anson Power Plant, and Black Hills Generation. Additionally, some of these plants were constructed with insulation that contains asbestos, and the turbines and generators may also contain this mineral.


Service members in every branch of the U.S. military are at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. Asbestos was used on almost every ship commissioned from 1930 – 1970, and nearly 300 asbestos-containing products were also used because asbestos was the preferred material for insulation and fireproofing. Ellsworth Air Force Base near Box Elder and Rapid City Air Force Base were active bases in South Dakota known to have exposed its military personnel to asbestos.


During the years when asbestos was a highly valued material for construction, many schools in America used it for roof shingles, tiles, and other parts of the building. When those schools needed renovation, it meant that the asbestos would be disturbed during the repairs. One school in South Dakota with asbestos in its buildings is South Dakota State University.

Additionally, a few miles south of Mount Rushmore in western South Dakota, there are a few naturally forming deposits of asbestos. They can be found in:

  • Homestake Gold Mine
  • Iron Mountain
  • A former asbestos prospect near Jewell Cave National Monument

Asbestos Jobsites in South Dakota

A number of South Dakota companies developed asbestos-containing products, and certain jobsites used asbestos that may have exposed workers. These include:

  • Dakota Midland Hospital, Aberdeen 
  • Risager Plumbing & Heating Co, Aberdeen 
  • St. Luke Hospital Power Plant, Aberdeen 
  • Big Stone City Power Plant, Big Stone City 
  • South Dakota State University, Brookings 
  • Junior High School, Pierre 
  • A. H. Bennett Co., Rapid City 
  • Amdak Corporation, Rapid City 
  • Consolidated Coal Co, Rapid City 
  • Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City 
  • Halde And Fleer, Inc., Rapid City 
  • Healy Plumbing & Heating Co., Rapid City 
  • Rapid City Air Force Base, Rapid City 
  • Red Ball Warehouse, Rapid City 
  • Revillo School, Revillo 
  • Macarthur Co., Sioux Falls 
  • Northern States Power Co., Sioux Falls 
  • Pathfinder Power Plant, Sioux Falls 
  • Xcel Energy, Sioux Falls
  • State Hospital, Yankton 
  • Stanley County Elementary School
  • Belle Fourche Police Headquarters
  • Homestake Gold Mine

Landfills That Accept Asbestos-Containing Waste

As part of their asbestos-waste management program, South Dakota provides disposal facilities for asbestos-containing waste. There are a number of landfills in the state for discarding this waste. While these landfills can cause environmental exposure to asbestos, they are permitted to accept asbestos waste. These disposal facilities include:

Belle Fourche Landfill
Belle Fourche, SD 57717

Brookings Landfill
P.O. Box 270
Brookings, SD 57006

Brown County Landfill
P.O. Box 2137
Aberdeen, SD 57402

Roberts County Landfill
Sisseton, SD 57262

Sioux Falls Landfill
224 West 9th Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57117

Southern Missouri Landfill
P.O. Box 146
Lake Andes, SD 57356

Tri-County Landfill
Pukwana, SD 57370

Mitchell Landfill
612 North Main Street
Mitchell, SD 57301

Pierre Landfill
Pierre, SD 57501

Rapid City Landfill
300 6th Street
Rapid City, SD 57701

Vermillion Landfill
25 Center Street
Vermillion, SD 57069

Walworth County Landfill
P.O. Box 242
Selby, SD 57472

Watertown Landfill
P.O. Box 910
Watertown, SD 57201

South Dakota Asbestos Laws and Regulations

As mesothelioma is not as prevalent in South Dakota as in some other states, it does not have a state-approved Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plan. Instead, it follows federal standards and regulations to ensure that workers are protected.

South Dakota businesses interested in learning more about asbestos dangers and how to avoid exposing employees can attend a course at South Dakota State University—an on-site program designed to provide recommendations to mitigate potential dangers.

Today, South Dakota is doing all it can to rid the state of asbestos remnants. The South Dakota Department of Environmental and Natural Resources is responsible for overseeing the training of asbestos professionals and granting them licenses for removal. Only state-approved asbestos inspectors may remove the material. To qualify, they must also undergo a three- to five-day training session and pass an exam. The exam must be taken every three years to ensure professionals are keeping up to date with new procedures.

The removal and transportation of asbestos must be done by certified asbestos professionals. Asbestos waste is deposited in one of 13 accredited landfills, and these landfills must abide by specific laws to ensure that the contents do not contaminate land or become airborne.

South Dakota Mesothelioma Treatment Centers

If you’re diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important that you manage your condition by working with an experienced doctor who understands this type of cancer. There are facilities in South Dakota with doctors who are experts in treating mesothelioma, including:
Avera Cancer Institute at Aberdeen

310 S Penn St. Suite 105
Aberdeen, SD 57401

Rapid City Regional Hospital
Cancer Care Institute
353 Fairmont Boulevard
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 755-1000

Contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to hold your employer responsible, but it’s important to contact a lawyer skilled and experienced in handling mesothelioma lawsuits. From the date of your diagnosis, you have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit; and if you’ve lost a family member to this disease, you have three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation can cover the expensive costs of loss of work, travel expenses, and potential surgery. There have been some mesothelioma settlements in South Dakota over $2 million. Contact us online or call our office directly 318.541.8188 to schedule a no-fee consultation.


Richard J. Arsenault
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Recognized by several legal associations, Richard Arsenault has vast experience in complex litigation cases.