Rochester Gas & Electric

Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E) is a utility company that supplies natural gas and electricity to consumers throughout a 2,700 square mile area surrounding Rochester, NY.  Its offices are located at 89 East Avenue, Rochester, New York 14649.

If you worked at a Rochester Gas & Electric station in Rochester, New York, you may have been exposed to asbestos and could be at risk for developing mesothelioma or lung cancer.

Throughout the later half of the twentieth century, RG&E has depended largely on the use of coal burning boilers and nuclear turbines in order to produce its power. The boilers and turbines at RG&E’s Russell and Beebe coal stations, located in Rochester, New York, and its Ginna Nuclear Station, located in Ontario, New York, were once covered in asbestos-containing thermal block insulation and were a significant source of asbestos exposure. Laborers employed at these stations regularly came into contact with asbestos-containing block insulation, cement, pipe covering, gaskets, packing material and pumps. In recent years, former laborers of Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E) who once worked at the Russell, Beebe, and Ginna stations have developed and died of mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

Until the mid-1970s, asbestos-containing materials were utilized as efficient insulation for intensely heated equipment, such as pipes, boilers and turbines and other equipment throughout RG &E powerhouses and substations. 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 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.

Once a year, RG&E’s stations went into a maintenance period called “shut down” when workers were directed to dismantle asbestos insulation from power turbines, pipes and boilers. During annual maintenance shut downs, worn asbestos insulation was removed by sawing insulation off of pipes and flat surfaces, filling the work atmospheres with asbestos dust and fibers. This process created enormous dust clouds.

After the worn insulation was removed, reapplication of asbestos insulation was necessary so that the pipes, boilers and turbines could effectively contain steam and other high temperature materials. During insulation reapplication, in order to prepare cement, dry asbestos cement mix was continuously dumped into water creating large clouds of asbestos dust. Most workers were completely unaware of the dangers of exposure to the asbestos dust and performed their work without masks or protective gear.

On June 22, 2018, RG&E and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation entered into a Multi-Site Order on Consent, which implemented RG&E’s Work Plans for remedial activities of environmental contamination at each RG&E properties.  

Rochester Gas & Electric’s Beebee Station (Station 3) – Rochester, New York

The Beebee Station was a coal-fired power plant that operated from 1892 through 1999, and was located in the heart of the City at 100 Platt Street, Rochester, New York.  It was located adjacent to High Falls and the Genesee River, and was instrumental in combining steam and hydroelectric power.  It was named after the RG&E Chairman, Alexander Beebee, and the Beebee Station was formally dedicated in 1959.  Demolition of the Beebee Station was completed in 2017. 

Rochester Gas & Electric’s West Station

The West Station (located in the Genesee River Gorge) was also used as part of the large coal-fired power generating facility and was part of the Beebee Station to the West. The West Station site is located along the west bank of the Genesee River in the City of Rochester, Monroe County. The site is approximately a quarter mile northwest of the Genesee River’s High Falls.

Rochester Gas & Electric’s East Station

At RG&E’s two gas works, known as West Station (located on the site of the present Beebee Station on the west side of the river near the Platt Street Bridge) and the East Station (at the site of the Citizen’s Gas Company plant north of Bausch Drive), over 289,000 tons of coal and almost 3.4 million gallons of oil were converted into gas and 184,000 tons of coke.

Rochester Gas & Electric’s Russell Station (Station 7) – Greece, New York

Constructed in 1948, RG&E’s Russell Station was located in Greece, New York on the Lake Ontario shoreline, and was once the biggest power plant in Monroe County. By the mid-2000s, coal was being frowned upon because of its high pollution rate, and in 2006 the New York State threatened to sue RG&E because the Russell Station’s pollution-control equipment was out of date. That same year, RG&E reached a settlement with New York State that required the shutdown of the coal-fired Russell Station power plant after improvements were made to power lines and substations. An investigation by the NYS Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation found that RG&E had made modifications to the Russell Station and increased air pollution emissions and bypassing pollution controls required by the state.  Under the agreement, RG&E had to build a cleaner, natural gas facility; they were fined $200,000, and were required to invest $500,000 in energy efficient/air pollution projects in Monroe, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans and Wayne counties. Ultimately, the plant was demolished in 2016; the entire area was regraded and planted with native grasses and surrounded by chain-link fence. An electric substation was all that remained.  RG&E spent approximately $59.9 mill to demolish both the Beebee and Russell plants. 

Robert Emmett Ginna Nuclear Power Plant (GINNA Nuclear Power Plant) – Wayne County, New York

The Robert Emmett Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, commonly known as Ginna (ghih-NAY), is a nuclear power plant located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, in the town of Ontario, Wayne County, New York. It is approximately 20 miles (32 km) east of Rochester, New York.   RG&E spent $75 million to construct the Ginna plant in 1966. It is a single unit Westinghouse 2-Loop pressurized water reactor. Having gone into commercial operation in 1970, Ginna became the second oldest nuclear power reactor, after Nine Mile unit 1, still in operation in the United States when the Oyster Creek power plant was permanently shut down on September 17, 2018. The Ginna Plant was owned and operated by RG&E until 2004, when it was sold to Constellation Energy, whose parent company, Exelon, now owns and operates the plant.  RG&E still purchases power generated at the Ginna plant. 

The attorneys at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos-containing products at RG&E 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 an RG&E power station and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.

*Above images courtesy of Rochester Subway website.


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