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Asbestos Exposures at the Beesley Point Generating Station – Cape May, New Jersey

The Beesley Point generating station in Cape May County has been in operation since 1963. It is recognized as New Jersey’s oldest operating power plant, and has been described as New Jersey’s dirtiest power plant. Once featuring three coal-fired boilers and a cooling tower, the antiquated equipment that powered Southern Jersey for decades is still in operation today. Like many other power plants across the country, the Beesley Point generating station has a documented history of significant asbestos use. Many employees and independent contractors who performed construction and maintenance work at Beesley Point were regularly exposed to vast amounts of asbestos.

Beesley Point’s coal-fired boilers were designed and constructed by the Bechtel Corporation. Considered one of the largest engineering and construction firms in the United States, Bechtel Corporation is a well-known defendant in asbestos litigation. Despite belonging to various trade organizations where the hazards of worker exposure to airborne dust were exposed, Bechtel continued to design and construct products that required several asbestos components to function properly. Products, including asbestos gaskets, packing, rope and insulation, were installed throughout the interior of Bechtel’s boilers. Employees at Beesley Point regularly climbed into these boilers to remove and replace this material.

The turbines at Beesley Point were manufactured and installed by General Electric. Like Bechtel Corporation, General Electric specified the use of various asbestos components on many products, including its turbines. When taken offline, the turbines were disassembled and rigorously inspected. Layers of asbestos insulation were removed before Beesley Point employees could inspect the turbines’ interiors. Once inside, several more pieces of asbestos were removed and replaced to ensure proper turbine performance. As far back as 1918, General Electric was a member of the National Safety Council, where the company was informed of the dangers posed by exposure to dust. Despite these warnings, General Electric continued to manufacture products that required workers to directly handle fibrous asbestos products without adequately warning consumers.

Additional asbestos exposures at Beesley Point generating station occurred during scheduled maintenance and emergency repairs. Supporting equipment, including pumps, valves, generators, condensers and air compressors, were installed throughout the plant. This equipment gathered, moved, directed and regulated the movement of various fluids necessary in the generation of power. Employees at Beesley Point regularly monitored this equipment to ensure that power-generating activities were not disrupted. Like Beesley Point’s boilers and turbines, much of this supporting equipment contained various pieces of asbestos.

For decades, pumps were manufactured in a way that required asbestos to work properly. These pumps contained compartments that housed asbestos gaskets and packing. Due to the constant use of the pumps, the asbestos products gradually wore down, requiring workers to scrape out the worn gaskets and packing. Once the compartments were cleaned, fresh asbestos material was installed. Similarly, the valves contained asbestos packing, which protected the equipment from damaging leaks. To keep fluid movements regulated, workers regularly opened these valves to remove and replace the asbestos packing.

The work performed at the Beesley Point generating station exposed employees and independent contractors to vast amounts of asbestos dust. Bechtel, General Electric, and other companies hid these dangers from workers while reaping high profits. Although the dangers associated with exposure to airborne dust were known for decades, these companies concealed this information, allowing hardworking tradesmen to regularly breathe harmful asbestos fibers into their lungs.

If you or a loved one worked at the Beesley Point generating station or another power plant and have developed an asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma or lung cancer, please call today for a free consultation.

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