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Asbestos Exposures Suffered at Beebee Station – Rochester, New York

The Beebee Power Station opened in Rochester, New York in the late-1800s. It was constructed by Rochester Gas & Electric, and supplied power to Monroe County for over 100 years. Spread across 18 acres of land abutting the High Falls section of the Genessee River, the power plant once employed hundreds of skilled tradespeople, including boiler tenders, engineers, maintenance crews, millwrights, operators and laborers. For decades, the Beebee Station, and its sister power plant, Russell Station, provided stable and secure employment for Rochester’s surrounding communities.

Beebee Station was permanently closed for demolition in 1999. An official statement released by Rochester Gas & Electric noted that one major issue for the continued operation of the plant was “widespread asbestos contamination.” As late as 1998, plant investigations revealed that decades worth of asbestos material was still installed throughout the plant. Due to the overwhelming amount of asbestos material installed by employees and independent contractors throughout Beebee Station between the 1940s and late-1980s, officials were concerned that there was no effective means to eliminate the harmful fibrous material.

The statements made by Rochester Gas & Electric underscore the rampant use of asbestos material at power plants across New York and throughout the country. Beebee Station’s 18 acres of land were loaded with high-temperature equipment requiring vast amounts of asbestos insulation. Miles of piping was coated with thick asbestos pipe insulation. Asbestos block, concrete and brick were installed inside and outside buildings. Original equipment still operating at the plant in the 1990s would only properly operate with asbestos components. Spray insulation installed by contractors, as well as floor tiles, wall material and other fibrous material, was installed to protect workers and prevent fires.

While Rochester Gas & Electric publicly acknowledged the severity of occupational asbestos exposure in 1999, these same warnings were not given to the hundreds of retirees who worked for decades on Beebee’s 18 acres of land. Workers were exposed to asbestos without safety training, masks and respirators, or proper dust ventilation equipment. Between the 1940s and 1990s, employees of Beebee Station regularly worked with and around asbestos, including gaskets, packing, seals, rope, pipe covering which were were regularly installed and removed by many of Beebee’s employees.

Generally, much of the asbestos exposure suffered by employees and independent contractors was associated with the products Beebee Station used to generate electricity. Equipment, including boilers, turbines, generators, condensers, pumps, valves, air compressors, tanks, piping systems contained various pieces of asbestos. The companies that manufactured these products designed them in a manner that required asbestos material. During scheduled maintenance and emergency repairs, workers would remove asbestos insulation from the equipment, and scrape out worn gaskets and packing. Once the machine was cleaned, fresh asbestos components were installed.

For several decades, the attorneys at Levy Konigsberg have represented the families of individuals who have suffered asbestos exposures at power plants like Beebee Station. Many of the companies whose products poisoned the lungs of Beebee Station employees were aware of the dangers their products posed. Choosing profits over the health and safety of their customers, these companies continued to produce asbestos-containing machines through the 1980s, despite definitive scientific research linking lung disease to exposure to dust. With proper warnings from these manufacturers, employee exposure to the harmful asbestos dust could have been avoided.

If you or a loved one worked at Beebee Station and have developed mesothelioma or lung cancer, or another asbestos-related disease, please call today for a free consultation.

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