Power plants generate enormous levels of heat. Heat transfer is one of the key components in the generation of electricity in nuclear, coal-fired, and hydroelectric power plants. Asbestos is one of the best materials for insulating, which is why most power plants continue its use. However, many fail to properly warn employees and contractors about the dangers, nor provide adequate safety equipment to protect them from exposure to asbestos.
Employees and contract workers share the same work environment. Likewise, they are often ill-informed about the risks from asbestos handling. Power plant workers most at risk include the following:
The key risks from asbestos come from the fibers. Insulation is one of the biggest threats because it is a fibrous material which, during simple handling, releases fibers into the air. These fibers are then breathed into the lungs where they lodge, remaining for years before triggering asbestosis, mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related lung cancer.
Fibers from asbestos can also be produced from drilling, cutting, or grinding hardened asbestos items such as pipes, fittings, gaskets, wall boards, and more. Worse, when the fibers are released into the air, those that do not enter workers’ lungs may be trapped in their clothing and hair. The power plant worker then brings the asbestos fibers home. The clothes may handled by a spouse during laundering, who then likewise breathes in the deadly material.
Pennsylvania has more than 100 power plants in operation throughout the state. These consist of 78 coal-fired power plants, five nuclear, and 18 hydroelectric. Highlighting the risks, three of the five nuclear plants have been associated with elevated levels of asbestos exposure resulting in mesothelioma. These are the Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant, Susquehanna Power Station, and the Three Mile Island Power Station.
In 1989, the United States EPA imposed a ban on new asbestos use in factory applications, but permitted existing facilities to continue its use. Because many of the power plants operating in Pennsylvania predate this ban, asbestos continues to carry serious risks to employees and their families.
Aside from this ban, when older facilities are renovated, asbestos must be removed. The EPA has strict guidelines in place, but these are not always followed. Illustrating this is an incident in Los Angeles, California in 2007. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) demolished several older structures containing asbestos. They did not inform the EPA prior to demolition nor did the LADWP take the necessary precautions to prevent exposure to workers and the public. One 2010 lawsuit has already seen the jury award $200 million to an LADWP employee.
If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos because of their work at a power plant in Pennsylvania, the risk of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease is high. If the cancer has already been detected, the Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sander would like to help. Fighting for clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, our goal is to make sure that you receive rightful compensation for your losses. To schedule a free consultation of your case, contact us online or call now 800-369-0899.