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Asbestos Exposures Suffered at Indian Point Nuclear Plant – Buchanan, New York

The Indian Point Nuclear power plant is located along the Hudson River in Buchanan, New York. Consolidated Edison of New York constructed the plant in the 1950s, with the first nuclear reactor installed in 1962. Thereafter, two Westinghouse water-pressurized nuclear reactor units were installed in the mid-1970s, increasing the plant’s total electrical output to 200 megawatts of energy. For decades, Indian Point has supplied power to New York City’s five boroughs and parts of Westchester County. Now owned by Entergy, Indian Point has succeeded through the labor of the skilled tradespeople making up the Utility Workers Union of America, who operate and repair the plant’s complex equipment.

To generate energy, the Indian Point plant relies on a complex system of machinery that was first installed in the early 1960s. A series of large pumps located near the Hudson River direct billions of gallons of water towards Indian Point’s Westinghouse nuclear units. The water is first sent to a series of new pumps, which control circulation and volume. From there, water is sent to the nuclear reactors, which heats the water until it turns to steam. Then, the Westinghouse nuclear supply system, with miles of piping, sends pressurized steam to the plant’s turbines. After the turbines’ movements are converted to energy, generators send this energy to the plant’s grid.

As the contractor for Indian Point’s #2 and #3 units, Westinghouse designed, manufactured and installed the plant’s “nuclear supply system.” This system was installed in sealed “reactor rooms,” and featured Westinghouse reactors, pumps, valves, piping, heating and cooling equipment, and motors. Large insulated cable and wire was laid down as well. Because this power-generating equipment reached dangerously high temperatures, asbestos-containing materials were used to retain the heat and prevent fires. To protect the nuclear supply system from damage, Westinghouse designed these structures with limited openings, which resulted in poor ventilation of dust and particles.

During scheduled maintenance and emergency repairs, Indian Point employees and independent contractors worked through every piece of equipment associated with the Westinghouse nuclear supply system. Exterior asbestos insulation was removed from the heating equipment, turbines, pumps and valves, and worn gaskets and packing were removed from the equipment. Often, because the asbestos material had degraded, workers spent upwards to an hour scraping out worn asbestos material from the equipment, exposing their coworkers and themselves to thousands of airborne fibers. Once the gasket or packing material was removed, new gaskets would be cut or shaped, and installed, which again exposed workers to thousands of airborne asbestos fibers.

Unfortunately, much of the asbestos exposure suffered by Indian Point employees was avoidable. As far back as the 1930s, various scientific studies began suggesting a link between exposure to dust and lung disease, well before Indian Point had been constructed. Many companies whose products were installed at Indian Point were aware of the dangers that their products posed to power plant workers. Fearing the additional costs for developing an alternative to asbestos, these companies continued to make machines that required asbestos insulation, gasket and packing material.

Con Edison also had knowledge of the dangers of asbestos, but failed to adequately protect workers at Indian Point while exercising supervisory control over much of the work that caused asbestos exposure at the plant.

Levy Konigsberg has successfully sued these companies for their negligence and failure to warn power plant workers about the dangers of their asbestos products. In fact, Levy Konigsberg has taken a leading role in trials in New York City involving powerhouse workers harmed by asbestos.

If you or a loved one worked at the Indian Point nuclear power plant and have developed mesothelioma ,lung cancer, asbestosis, or another asbestos-related disease, please call today for a free consultation.

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