Prior to the 1940’s, Anchorage was a little known outpost in Alaska with few inhabitants. Those who did settle in the area lived a frugal life with no real luxuries and certainly no luxuries such as electricity. With the development of industry and more people coming to the area, a hydroelectric plant was constructed on the Eklutna River; however this was not sufficient to provide enough power for the town and frequently broke down. Frustrated by the continued shortage of power the town took the opportunity to purchase a tanker that had broken up off the coast. The tanker’s boilers and generators were put to use to create a power source for the area supplementing the Eklutna plant. The boilers and generators on the tanker were only a temporary solution and not able to offer more than 42% of the power needed at the time. Furthermore, its electricity was expensive to supply. With a need to overcome this problem a group of 200 people formed a cooperative with the aim to bring a steady power supply to local businesses and the homes of local people. This cooperative was named Chugach Electric, and was incorporated as an official organization in 1948. The group initially funded themselves by collecting a membership fee of $5 from all local people and wishing to join the cooperative. This practice has remained to the present day.
As Chugach Electric expanded they funded further projects all with the aim of providing power to more and more people. They constructed the Knik Arm Power Plant which opened in 1952, and laid numerous power lines across the area, linking new sources of power from the plants they had funded and assisted in constructing. With the opening of the Cooper Power Plant, Chugach Electric constructed a 40 mile power line to distribute energy to even more homes.
Chugach were responsible for a huge number of upgrades at existing power plants in the area. They employed a vast number of workers to carry out these upgrades, as well as the construction of the power plants and the laying of distribution lines that carried the power sources. The workers employed by Chugach were unknowingly exposed to asbestos on a daily basis due to its use in many of the materials used in the construction and upkeep of the power plants and lines. In the late 1960’s Chugach were at the forefront of using natural gas as an alternative energy source; however those employed to remove the old coal boilers would have been exposed to asbestos due to its use as a boiler sealant and as insulation, all of which had to be fully removed and taken away. Whilst Chugach Electric were an innovative company looking at new ways to provide energy for vast numbers of people, they failed to protect their employees from the risks of prolonged exposure to asbestos, a risk that was documented as early as the 1930’s.
Some of the materials used at various locations by Chugach Electric included:
- Pipelines and the Insulation Material
- Insulation Blocks
- Heat Resistant Ceilings and Floors
- Wall Coatings
The asbestos that would have been contained within many of the materials used at Chugach Electric locations would have found its way into the environment, as the tiny fibrous particles become easily airborne. These fibers are breathed in by workers over a prolonged period of time and settle in the lining of the lungs. In addition, asbestos can be carried on the hair and clothing and subsequently may be breathed by people you come into close and regular contact with. Excessive and frequent exposure to materials containing asbestos causes the lining of the lungs to scar and thicken and can result in a range of respiratory diseases and more serious illnesses. The most serious of these diseases is known as the cancer Mesothelioma.
If you suspect you or a family member may have been exposed to asbestos and your health has suffered as a result, then we can help you get the justice you deserve. We can offer a no obligation discussion to guide you through your options for compensation. Chugach Electric knew the risk posed by asbestos but did not take action on your behalf. We will take action. We are here to pursue justice against asbestos companies that knew their products were fatal, yet did nothing to warn the hard working men and women that used, or came in to contact with them. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re offering free consultations – schedule one today.