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Asbestos Exposures Suffered at the Kearny Generating Station – Kearny, New Jersey

PSEG’s Kearny Generating Station units were commissioned in 1953. Originally constructed in the 1920s with the technical input of Thomas Edison, the plant was once New Jersey’s largest power-producing facility in the state.

Kearny Station upgraded its equipment between the 1950s and 1960s, allowing the plant to greatly increase its electrical output to the power grid. The plant sits on the Hackensack River, and once featured several oil-fired boiler units, which were upgraded by PSEG in 2012. For decades, PSEG’s oil-fired power plant was operated by skilled tradespeople residing in New Jersey and New York.

The first step involved in producing power at PSEG’s Kearny plant was heating oil in the plant’s six boilers to produce steam. Crews of dedicated workers were assigned to Kearny’s boiler house, where the machinery was installed. Large boilers, which were several stories high, were operated around-the-clock to continuously produce pressurized steam. Workers in the boiler house kept a constant watch over the machinery, to ensure proper performance. At times, the boilers were taken offline for detailed overhauls or emergency repairs.

Large numbers of PSEG employees assigned to Kearny’s boiler house were regularly exposed to asbestos. To maintain the boiler’s heat and prevent fires, PSEG insulated its boilers with large amounts of asbestos insulation. This fibrous material was wrapped around the boilers, and was often removed when work was completed on the machines. Tearing apart pieces of asbestos insulation released thousands of asbestos fibers into the air, which workers regularly breathed into their lungs. Inside the boilers, workers regularly scraped worn gasket and packing material, before installing new asbestos components.

After the boilers created an adequate amount of steam, heavily insulated piping systems directed the steam to a different area of the plant. Here, the force of the steam spun large turbines. Dedicated turbine crews operated and monitored the equipment. Like the boilers, the turbines reached dangerously high temperatures, which required numerous asbestos components. During scheduled maintenance, workers and independent contractors removed exterior insulation and inspected the interiors of the turbines and generators. This overhaul work required workers to scrape out dozens of asbestos gaskets, and replace the degraded products with new asbestos components.

Other overhaul activities at the Kearny plant involved work with and around supporting equipment, including pumps, valves, motors and air compressors. Like the plant’s boilers and turbines, much of this equipment contained numerous asbestos components, including gaskets, packing and mechanical seals. During planned shutdowns, PSEG employees and independent contractors checked each piece of supporting equipment for damage and defects. Changing the asbestos components on this equipment exposed workers to vast amounts of asbestos.

For decades, the attorneys at Levy Konigsberg have represented the family members of skilled tradespeople who performed work at power plants in New Jersey. Various trades, including boilertenders, pipefitters, millwrights, operators, machinists, and laborers, operated and maintained the equipment that allowed PSEG to produce electricity. Without warning or proper safety training, workers unknowingly and repeatedly exposed themselves to vast amounts of poisonous asbestos fiber. Had PSEG’s employees been warned, this exposure could have been prevented.

If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related disease, and worked at the Kearny Generating Plant, please call today for a free consultation.

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