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Eastern North Carolina is a picturesque region, centered midway on the nation’s eastern seaboard, and well known for the miles of sunny Atlantic Ocean beaches, golf, historic sites and attractions, as well as Eastern style North Carolina barbeque. The Eastern North Carolina region includes the North Carolina coastal areas of Dare County, Hyde County, Beaufort County, Pamlico County, Carteret County, Onslow County, New Hanover County, Pender County and Brunswick County.
The eastern region of North Carolina boasts a wide variety of industries including distribution, military contractors, biotechnology, building products, alternative energy, metalworking, agriculture, food processing, textiles and shipbuilding. Eastern North Carolina has a number of metalworking / manufacturing facilities. Workers produce a wide range of products, including steel coils, grills, steel packing straps, metal buildings, pipe fittings, cranes and nails. The International Metalworkers’ Federation states certain industries, such as the metalworking industry, have a notorious reputation for causing cancer. Cancers, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, may appear years or decades after workers have retired.
Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. According to the National Cancer Institute, a history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in approximately 70% to 80% of all mesothelioma cases. Since the early 1940s, many Eastern North Carolina workers have been exposed to asbestos at their place of employment. Shipyard workers, producers of asbestos products, and workers in the heating and construction industries may be at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma because of workplace exposure to asbestos.
The largest metalworking facilities in Eastern North Carolina include Acme Electric in Lumberton, Carolina Machine in Hope Mills, Cardinal Metal Works in Burgaw, and Terex Corp., Container Products, Therma Tru, West Marine and Wilmington Grill, all located in Wilmington.
Eastern North Carolina has a large number of shipbuilding and marine companies. The region has a long history of shipbuilding and possesses a large population of current and retired shipbuilders. The natural proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, and the waterways, intracoastal waterway, lakes and rivers provide a ready market for shipbuilding companies.
Wilmington, NC is the principal city of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties. Located on the Cape Fear River, Wilmington has a sizable seaport, including private marine terminals and the North Carolina State Ports Authority’s Port of Wilmington. The USS North Carolina is docked in the Cape Fear River as a tourist attraction, and the U.S. Navy announced that a 509-foot long missile-guided destroyer would be commissioned in Wilmington in the fall of 2010.
Wilmington, North Carolina has a long shipbuilding history. In 1941, the North Carolina Shipbuilding Co. in Wilmington, NC started building ships for the United States Maritime Commission’s Emergency Shipbuilding Program. From 1941 through 1946, the company built 243 ships, beginning with the Liberty ship SS Zebulon B. Vance. Employment at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company reached its peak of 21,000 in 1943. Unfortunately, asbestos was among the more common items used for shipbuilding at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Co. Asbestos has been conclusively linked to a number of serious injury and health conditions, including mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. Asbestos was used mainly to insulate piping and boilers, but could be found at numerous locations during a ship’s construction. Shipyard workers, those who work in asbestos mines and mills, producers of asbestos products, and workers in the heating and construction industries, have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.
The Eastern North Carolina region is expecting continuing growth. Economic opportunities, a low cost of living, and a mild climate have contributed to this growth. Eastern North Carolina, particularly the southern portion of the region, is part of the Sunbelt area. The region experiences four distinct seasons, all with moderate temperatures, allowing for many outdoor activities. The beaches provide a scenic recreation area for the many residents and visitors who enjoy swimming, fishing, sunbathing and surfing. Both deep-sea and freshwater fishing are popular pastimes in Eastern North Carolina, as are hunting, hiking, camping, canoeing and water-skiing, along the region’s rivers, lakes, state parks and nature preserves.