In 1929 the hydroelectric plant, owned by the Eklutna Anchorage Power and Light (AP&L) in Anchorage, Alaska began to supply the town of Anchorage with electricity. Prior to this time the local people of Anchorage were dependent on diesel and stem to generate their power. Anchorage itself was a small Alaskan tent city until the decision to install an electricity plant transformed the area employing vast numbers of workers over the years that followed. The Eklutna River was deemed the ideal location for the hydroelectric plant and this became a new home for the many individuals employed to construct and run the plant. During the 1940s a huge 10,000 ton tanker that had been damaged in nearby waters, was purchased due the tanker having a useful electric drive. This provided the source to run the plant more effectively and with better efficiency.
In 1943 the hydroelectric plant was sold to the city of Anchorage. This plant continued to supply the area for ten more years right up until work began on a new electricity plant. In 1955 work started by the US Bureau of Reclamation was completed on a new, much larger electricity plant which subsequently took over as the sole supplier of electricity to Anchorage and the surrounding area.
Construction workers employed to build the power plant and install the internal devices required to assemble various machines and materials to run the plant, would have used asbestos when going about their day to day jobs. A number of materials used within power plants, such as the Anchorage City Power Plant, would have contained asbestos. In addition the actual structure of the power plant, the ceilings, roofs, wall coatings and floors, would also have been manufactured using asbestos containing material. The reason for this was that the nature of a hydroelectric, or any other power plant, required that it be extremely resistant to the high temperatures that would be incurred on a daily basis. Asbestos was well known for its heat resistant properties thereby making it the ideal choice for use in the power plant industry. Asbestos fibers travel freely through the air into the surrounding environment, and are subsequently breathed in by anyone who is exposed to areas where asbestos has been used. When these fibers are breathed in on a regular basis and over a prolonged period of time, they can cause long term medical conditions.
As well as those employed to construct the plant, the individuals involved in the day to day running and oversight of the plant would have been unavoidably exposed to asbestos on a continuous basis. Workers running the plant would have been exposed to the asbestos in the roof, ceilings, and the floors of the plant as they went about their daily routines. Those handling machinery and carrying out maintenance work would also have been in regular contact with asbestos albeit unknowingly. Workers would also have transported the asbestos fibers on the clothing back home and may have passed them on to their families with no knowledge of the associated risks.
Some of the areas in which asbestos would have been prevalent within the Anchorage City Power Plant include:
- Sealing of Gaskets and Pipes
- High Resistant Insulation Blocks
- Heat Resistant Paint for Walls and Ceilings
- Floor Coverings
The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause damage when inhaled over a prolonged amount of time. The miniscule particles are carried about in the environment and can be carried on clothing and on the skin and hair. The fibers adhere to the lining of the lungs where they settle and can create serious related illnesses. The damage caused by exposure to asbestos does not normally manifest itself until many years after exposure, in some cases the damage is not discovered for 30 years or more. Asbestos can cause thickening and scarring of the lung lining, and a type of cancer known as Mesothelioma.
Whilst the use of asbestos was common, and there was no doubt it was considered an excellent choice in many industries, the associated risks were well documented and precautions should have been taken by employers. Those responsible for the construction and running of the Anchorage City Power Plant would undoubtedly have been aware that exposure to asbestos could have long term affects, yet they chose to ignore these risks leaving employees at danger from developing asbestos related diseases.
If you or a family member has been affected by mesothelioma, or even if you suspect you may have developed symptoms then we can advise you on your options. Justice is a right for all workers and we fully believe that proper precautions should have been taken by those at the Anchorage City Power Plant. The risks of asbestos were well documented as early as the 1930’s leaving no excuses for workers to be left exposed. We can guide and assist you in determining whether you are eligible to make a claim for compensation; claims can include compensation for lost employment days and medical expenses. We are here to help you and your family, and offer a free, no obligation consultation to take you through your options.