Consolidated Edison Company of New York (Con Edison) provides electric service for the majority of boroughs comprising New York City and Westchester County as well as areas of northern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. The company also provides natural gas service in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and portions of Queens and Westchester counties. In addition, Con Edison owns and operates the world’s largest district steam system, providing steam service to office and residential buildings, hospitals and schools in parts of Manhattan. Founded in 1884, Con Edison is a combination of the original New York Gas Light Company and the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York, founded by electricity visionary Thomas Edison.
Con Edison has long owned and maintained numerous powerhouses and utility substations in New York City and its surrounding areas. Sold in 1999, the Arthur Kill Powerhouse in Staten Island and the Astoria Powerhouse in Queens were once two of Con-Edison’s largest powerhouses. Until the 1970’s, asbestos was used extensively in the utility industry as insulation for high-heat temperature equipment such as turbines, large boilers, tanks, pumps, steam pipes and valves. Asbestos could also be found in gaskets and in the block insulation that covered boilers and turbines. As a result of asbestos exposure at Con Edison powerhouses and utility stations, many workers developed mesothelioma, a cancer that is only caused by exposure to asbestos.
It was often necessary for maintenance work to be performed on aging equipment within various Con Edison plants. During this time, worn asbestos insulation that covered pipes was torn-down, and workers would assist with dismantling and replacing the asbestos insulation. This process was extremely messy and would create enormous dust clouds. Many workers were not aware of the dangers of exposure to the asbestos dust, and carried on their work without masks or protective gear. Inhaling dust and particles from the application and maintenance of asbestos insulation and other materials placed employees at risk of developing serious health problems. Even those not who were not in direct contact with asbestos materials remain at risk for the development of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
There are currently over 100 miles of steam mains, traps, manholes and service pipes that make up the Con Edison steam system. Aging steam pipes laid in the early 20th century remain a hidden danger underground. These pipes range in size from one to thirty inches in diameter, and deliver clean, steam energy to roughly 2,000 customers from the Battery to Harlem. Workers who once fabricated gaskets and applied asbestos insulation to the underground pipes are at risk for developing asbestos related diseases. One of the greatest concerns with this aging system is the potential for pipes to rupture causing underground explosions which could emit dangerous levels of asbestos fibers and dust into the air. In 2007, a 24-inch steam pipe that was laid in 1924 exploded in Midtown Manhattan near Grand Central Terminal, leaving one person dead and more than 30 injured. High levels of asbestos fibers were noted in the area of the explosion, and subsequently, over 200 individuals were evacuated from their homes and businesses as a result of the asbestos contamination.
Our attorneys have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos containing products to which our clients were exposed. Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one once worked at a Con Edison facility and have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, please contact us for a free case evaluation.