New York State Electric and Gas Corporation (NYSEG) is a Binghamton, New York, based subsidiary of the Energy East Corporation that delivers gas and electric services to approximately 995,000 consumers throughout New York State. During the majority of the twentieth century, NYSEG depended on the use of coal-fired boilers and turbines to produce its power. The boilers and turbines located throughout NYSEG’s power plants and generating stations were once covered in asbestos-containing thermal block insulation. NYSEG’s power stations, including Dresden, Hickling and Milliken facilities, were a significant source of asbestos exposure. Laborers who were once employed at NYSEG’s power stations were routinely exposed to asbestos-containing materials, including asbestos-containing block insulation, cement, pipe covering, gaskets and packing material found in pumps and valves. As a result of their exposure to asbestos-containing materials, many NYSEG workers have developed and died of mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

The efficient operation of a NYSEG power station depended largely upon that facility’s work force. The NYSEG work force consisted of a variety of laborers, each designated with a specific maintenance responsibility. For those who worked at a NYSEG facility during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s exposure to asbestos was common. Maintenance and repair trades, such as pump operators and journeymen, were placed at an elevated risk of exposure.

An intricate system of steam pipes and pumps could be found in many of NYSEG’s coal fueled power stations. Pipes and pumps required regular and frequent maintenance. Pump operators were responsible for replacing asbestos-containing gaskets that were contained within the flanges of a pipe system. Depending on the condition of the gasket in need of replacement, a pump operator may have been required to scrape and pry the gasket from its flange. This process caused asbestos dust to become airborne and spread into the working area of employees who did not have direct contact with the asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos gaskets were used because of their durability and ability to withstand high temperatures.

Asbestos pipe insulation also covered steam pipes at many NYSEG stations. Asbestos insulation was primarily used because of its durability and ability to withstand high heat temperatures in the steam lines. Asbestos could also be found in cement and in the block insulation that covered boilers and turbines.

Roughly once a year and on a rotating schedule, NYSEG’s power stations went into a maintenance period called shutdown. Each station’s shutdown lasted for approximately five to twelve weeks, and workers performed maintenance work on boilers, turbines, pumps and pipes. Insulation contractors or journeymen removed worn asbestos insulation from steam pipes and flat surfaces by sawing it or using scrapping tools such as claw hammers. Once the worn insulation was removed, new asbestos insulation materials were applied to pipes, boilers and turbines so that the equipment could effectively contain steam and other high temperature materials. During the insulation application and removal processes, large clouds of asbestos dust became airborne and traveled into the working areas of those who were not in direct contact with the insulation materials. Most workers were not aware of the dangers of exposure to the asbestos dust, and performed their work without masks or protective gear.

The attorneys at Lipsitz & Ponterio, LLC have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos-containing products that were applied and maintained at NYSEG power stations. 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 were once employed at a NYSEG power station and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.

NYSEG Powerhouses and Generating Stations: