The processes involved in creating, storing and distributing power requires a lot of labor. Most modern factory and power plants have at least 400 to 700 workers who are both blue collar and white collar. Depending on their job duties, they may work in machinery operation, system control, metal work and maintenance of equipment. Most power plant workers start their careers as operators that are non licensed, and eventually become licensed operators.
Because power plants and some factories are often full of machinery that produces high levels of heat and friction, they often contained decades ago a lot of asbestos insulation to avoid fires and overheating. The standard operation of power plants released dangerous asbestos fibers into the air, and workers often inhaled them.
The danger of asbestos is inhaling the fibers can cause serious health problems, including mesothelioma. This is a very deadly and painful cancer that is nearly always terminal. It involves the lining of the organs, especially the lungs. As it is spread throughout vital organ lining tissues, treatment is extremely challenging. Because mesothelioma is almost always preventable, many power plant and factory workers file personal injury and wrongful death asbestos lawsuits against the companies to compensate them for their expenses and pain and suffering.
These power plant and factory mesothelioma lawsuits have contributed to thousands of asbestos legal actions over the years since the 1970s. It is estimated in 2017 there were 4000 lawsuits filed for various occupational asbestos exposure.
Locations of Power Plants and Products
Power plant and factory workers often had to work around asbestos products daily. The most common items where those that were heat resistant. Some of these included pipe insulation and fireproof sprays.
For example, a survey conducted of Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant found these asbestos containing products on site:
- Acoustic plaster
- Asbestos blankets
- Asbestos boilers
- Hot tops
- Asbestos compounds
- Raw asbestos
- Asbestos pipe covering
Products containing asbestos were especially common in plants that generate electricity as well as power distribution centers. Transformer stations, mining plants and outlying electrical workshops also often had asbestos.
Exposure on the Jobsite
Power plant workers that were at highest risk for exposure to asbestos were blue collar and hands on workers. Their job descriptions would include installing and maintaining pipes and electrical appliances. Many company records at these plants have shown that insulation that contained asbestos was a problem for people who worked there years later. Doing upgrades of machinery usually involved workers needing to saw through asbestos products before installing more materials containing asbestos.
Many electrical plant workers actually sprayed asbestos pulp onto hot machinery, including boilers. Others would put on asbestos insulation into seals, pipes, pumps and gaskets. A former plant worker once said that he would create asbestos dust while he was drilling and bolting breakers from GE onto a turbine.
Even supervisors and office workers who did not deal with asbestos products could have been exposed on the job, too. Poor ventilation systems in many power plants may have allowed asbestos in the air to circulate all through the facility.
Today, exposure to asbestos at power plants is much more controlled than years ago. But there are still problems. In Oct. 2011, 12 or more workers were exposed to deadly asbestos when they were cutting into pipes at the Surry Nuclear Power Plant in Virginia. The plant did not have the equipment to measure how much the workers were exposed. But workers did see that three trailers were coated in asbestos dust. The pipe manufacturer was required to pay a $5000 fine. (Dailypress.com).
Scientific Studies on Asbestos Exposure at Power Plants
A German study found that workers who worked in power plants had about 20 years of asbestos exposure in their work lives, on average. Workers who did power generation work had longer exposures than employees who worked in power distribution and gas supply.
That study also found that out of 8,600 power plant employees, 3,480 of them handled products that had chrysotile and crocidolite asbestos. (NIH.gov). Another 1500 workers handled chrysotile products only, and another 600 employees worked with crocidolite.
Another study from 1980 found that asbestos exposure in power plants generally led to pleural thickening, which can eventually lead to mesothelioma. Approximately 33% of workers had markers of asbestos exposure in sputum. These workers also were more likely to have systems in the gastrointestinal tract and have a hoarse voice.
Power Plant Asbestos Lawsuits
A steamfitter named Paul Crane filed a lawsuit against Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant after he spent a decade wrapping pipes with asbestos, and he also welded metals that were wrapped in asbestos blankets. The NY Supreme Court ruled against the provider of the products for not implementing proper safety procedures.
In another asbestos lawsuit, the wife of a former power plant worker died from mesothelioma after she had decades of secondhand asbestos exposure. Her husband remembered a very dusty work environment at the powerplant in Port Everglades, where he built turbines with GE products. The legal team on the case determined that that dust covered his work clothes that he gave his spouse to wash. GE was unsuccessful in contesting the verdict, but the final award was not made public.
Asbestos Containing Products at Power Plants
Some of the companies that have been held liable in lawsuits over asbestos exposure in recent years are:
- Allis Chalmers
- Georgia Pacific
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Attorneys for Power Plant and Factory Workers
Are you a former power plant or factory worker who was exposed to asbestos on the job, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma? It is a good idea to speak with a mesothelioma attorney in your state. The attorney can review your case to determine if there is a chance you could be entitled to compensation. Make sure you have clear medical records of your diagnosis, and a detailed employment history that shows where you think you were exposed to asbestos.
Some good mesothelioma attorneys to consider for power plant and factory workers are:
The Law Offices of Wallace & Graham
525 North Main St.
Salisbury North Carolina
If you or your loved one was exposed to asbestos at a chemical plant or power station years ago, the Law Offices of Wallace & Graham can help you to explore your options for financial compensation. This firm has been successful in handling several asbestos lawsuits from Virginia and other parts of the country. Some of clients they are represented worked at these Georgia locations: 3M Plant in Decatur; Atchison Power Plant in Bolton; Georgia Power in Macon; and GE Plant in Rome.
Lipsitz & Ponterio LLC
424 Main St. #1500
Buffalo NY 14202
This law firm in New York generally specializes in workers who were employed at the Hickling Power Station run by New York State Electric & Gas. Until the late 1970s, workers at this station regularly worked with asbestos containing materials during routine maintenance. Many workers who handled these products, such as pipe covering, insulating cement and block insulation, developed mesothelioma.
Sieben & Polk Law Firm
2600 Eagan Woods Dr., Suite 50
Eagan MN 55121
The attorneys at Sieben & Polk in Minnesota have many years of proven experience working on asbestos exposure cases specifically involving the Honeywell site in the area. They have worked with dozens of former employees who were exposed to asbestos in this building.
- Asbestos Related Disorders in Germany. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5800242/
- At Least 12 Contractors At Surry Nuclear Power Station Exposed to Asbestos. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.dailypress.com/news/science/dead-rise-blog/dp-asbestos-at-least-12-contractors-at-surry-nuclear-power-station-exposed-20111024-story.html