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Asbestos Exposures at the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant

The Ginna Nuclear Power Plant is located on Wayne County’s Lake Ontario. Constructed and owned for decades by the Rochester Electric & Gas Company, operations at the Ginna Nuclear Plant began in 1970. Originally featuring Westinghouse steam generators, Rochester Electric & Gas increased activities at the worksite to provide power to over 500,000 local customers. Spread across 400+ acres of land, new and more powerful machinery was consistently added to the site to increase power generation capabilities. Today, the plant is owned and operated by the Exelon Corporation, but for decades, the Rochester Electric & Gas was a major employer for Wayne County’s communities.

With activities focused solely on a pressurized water reactor, employees of the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant operated complex equipment that used steam to spin the plant’s turbines. Taking advantage of the endless supply of Lake Ontario’s water, condensers and circulating water pumps were installed on the edge of the plant’s property to move water towards the nuclear reactor. Cold water would enter Ginna’s nuclear reactor where Westinghouse steam generators and Ginna’s reactor vessel heated Lake Ontario’s water, converting it into pressurized steam. The steam was directed to spinning turbines, which turned the movement into usable electricity, doled out by a generator to Rochester Electric’s power grid.

Ginna’s equipment required constant monitoring and maintenance. Every 12 to 18 months, Ginna’s nuclear reactor was taken “offline” for critical repairs. Available documentation shows that several hundred independent contractors were hired for around-the-clock maintenance and repair work during these overhaul periods. Working with Rochester Electric employees, crews of skilled tradespeople repaired equipment, and installed new asbestos components. During these turnarounds, all of Ginna’s equipment, including the turbines, pumps, condensers and generators were attended to.

The overhaul work at Ginna required the use of numerous pieces of asbestos. Independent contractors disassembled equipment, like Ginna’s turbines and pumps, and repaired worn components. Materials including asbestos gaskets and packing were scraped out, and fresh pieces were installed. Asbestos insulation was ripped off the equipment to get inside the machines, and then reapplied when repair work was completed. This work exposed Rochester Electric employees and independent contractors to vast amounts of asbestos dust. Other products, like pipe covering and block was installed while the reactor was cooled.

In 1982, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission contracted with the Burns & Roe’s engineering firm to analyze various exposures at the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant. With internal documents supplied by Rochester Electric & Gas, it was revealed that all of the heat and steam pipes at Ginna were insulated with asbestos insulation. Additionally, the exteriors of the equipment were insulated with Johns Manville insulation. Before reaching the gaskets and packing on the equipment, independent contractors would have cut through this material. A recent asbestos abatement performed at a similar nuclear power plant in England resulted in the removal of 3,300 tons of asbestos material.

The employees and independent contractors of the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant were regularly exposed to high volumes of asbestos. Without warning, or proper precautions, these individuals worked with material that poisoned their lungs. The attorneys at Levy Konigsberg have decades of experience defending the families of tradespeople harmed by exposure to asbestos. If you or a loved one worked at the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant and have developed an asbestos-related disease, including malignant mesothelioma or lung cancer, please call today for a free consultation.

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