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Asbestos Exposures at the Salem Nuclear Generating Station and Hope Creek Generating Station, Salem County, New Jersey

Owned by PSEG, the Salem Nuclear Generating Station and Hope Creek Generation Station share the same land, operating along 700 acres in Alloways Creek Township, New Jersey. Situated on the Delaware River, these plants have been Salem County’s largest employer for several decades. Due to their close proximity to Delaware, many residents from Wilmington and surrounding areas in Delaware found steady employment with PSEG. Carrying a workforce of over 1500 unionized employees, Salem Nuclear and Hope Creek generate enough daily electricity to power over two million households.

Construction activities for the Salem Nuclear Generation station broke ground in 1968, with PSEG receiving its nuclear commission in 1977. Salem Nuclear features two water-pressurized Westinghouse units, constructed by Westinghouse employees in the early 1970s. Complimenting the Westinghouse reactors at Salem are Westinghouse-manufactured turbines and General Electric generators. Prior to 1991, other equipment heavy equipment operated at Salem Nuclear included lube oil pumps, sump pumps, circulating pumps and reactor pumps, some of which reached 30 feet in height.

The Hope Creek Generating Station began construction in 1974, with power-generating capabilities starting in the early 1980s. Although designed for two units, PSEG only installed one reactor, a pressurized water unit manufactured by General Electric. Likewise, General Electric manufactured and installed Hope Creek’s turbines and generator. Unlike Salem Nuclear, Hope Creek’s power-generating activities are linked to a cooling tower, which was manufactured by Marley. Rounding out the major equipment at Hope Creek were large turbine pumps, lube pumps, and oil seal pumps as well as dedicated control rooms, which housed additional valves, pumps and related equipment.

The equipment installed at Salem Nuclear and Hope Creek was heavily insulated with asbestos. The reactor buildings designed and constructed by Westinghouse and General Electric to house their products contained vast amounts of asbestos. Raw asbestos and asbestos-insulating materials were installed on the metal and concrete fixtures of these rooms, to protect workers, and insulate the reactor itself. With the goal of reaching the highest temperatures possible, trapping heat was critical. Hope Creek’s cooling tower also featured numerous asbestos components, including asbestos fills, comb eliminators and resin sheets manufactured with asbestos.

During scheduled shutdowns, Salem Nuclear and Hope Creek employees, with the assistance of hundreds of around-the-clock independent contractors, systematically checked, repaired and overhauled every piece of equipment involved in power-generating activities. This work exposed employees and independent contractors to airborne dust, as much of the maintenance involved removing and replacing asbestos components. For several decades, products like gaskets, packing, rope and insulation, were commonly found in the equipment installed at Salem Nuclear and Hope Creek.

Without proper warnings or safety equipment, skilled tradespeople would scrape out worn asbestos gaskets and packing from the numerous pumps and valves installed at these worksites. New material, much of which had to be cut, shaped and installed, created airborne dust when it was disturbed. Asbestos components installed on and in the worksites’ turbines, reactors, generators and condensers were also removed and replaced. Much of this equipment contained exterior asbestos insulation, which was cut into and replaced, before workers could reach the interior asbestos components. For many, work assignments at Salem Nuclear and Hope Creek involved significant and consistent exposures to asbestos.

If you or a loved one worked at the Salem Nuclear Generating Station or the Hope Creek Generating Station in Salem County and have developed an asbestos-related disease, please call today for a free consultation.

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