How Asbestos Exposure Occurred in Power Plants

Power plant workers maintain many types of equipment at power generation and distribution plants. These workers include pipefitters, electricians, maintenance mechanics, boiler operators and tenders, plumbers, welders, and laborers. Workers were exposed to asbestos when installing, inspecting, maintaining, repairing, removing and replacing boilers, pumps, valves, heaters, electrical boxes and other equipment.


How Asbestos Exposure Occurred in Power Plants

Power plant workers maintain many types of equipment at power generation and distribution plants. These workers include pipefitters, electricians, maintenance mechanics, boiler operators and tenders, plumbers, welders, and laborers. Workers were exposed to asbestos when installing, inspecting, maintaining, repairing, removing and replacing boilers, pumps, valves, heaters, electrical boxes and other equipment.

Coal Power Plant

A coal power plant burns coal in order to generate electricity. Coal power plants provide the world with one third of its electricity by turning coal into thermal energy, mechanical energy, and electrical energy. Coal power plants use fossil fuel to grind coal into tiny particles. The coal is then heated in a pulverized boiler which converts the boiler water to steam. The steam spins turbines that turn generators thus providing us with electricity.

Coal Power Plant

Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal-fired_power_station

Oil/Gas Power Plant

A gas power plant is a thermal power station that burns gas to create electricity. Natural gas power stations provide the world with one quarter of its electricity. Gas power plants convert methane into thermal energy, mechanical energy, and electrical energy. There are several plant types that involve different types of turbines. One type of turbine is called a simple cycle gas-turbine which uses hot gas to drive a gas turbine to bring about electricity. The combined cycle gas-turbine uses the Brayton cycle and follows it with a heat recovery steam generator and steam turbine which use the Rankine cycle. Finally, a reciprocating internal combustion engine is used for emergency power or to balance variable renewable energy.

Oil/Gas Power Plant

Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas-fired_power_plant

Nuclear Power Plant

A nuclear power plant is a thermal power station in which the heat source is a nuclear reactor. Heat is used to drive a steam turbine that is connected to a generator that produces electricity. There are approximately 450 nuclear power reactors in 30 countries around the world. The process of converting nuclear energy to electrical energy takes place when the fission in a nuclear reactor heats the reactor coolant. The reactor coolant then goes to a steam generator and heats water to produce steam. The pressurized steam is then fed into a steam turbine, and then the water is pumped into a steam generator. The remaining vapor is condensed in a condenser, which is attached to a cooling tower. The water is then pumped back into the steam generator and the cycle begins again.

Nuclear Power Plant

Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_plant

Boilers

BoilersBoilers heat water into steam which is used to create electricity. Asbestos was used to insulate the interior of the boiler and the exterior of the boiler. The interior materials were usually firebrick and refractory cement. The external insulation was usually asbestos covering in the form of cement or thermal insulation.

Boilers also used asbestos in gaskets on the boiler door, various access windows and plates, and where the boiler was connected to piping or equipment. Boilers contained many components that used asbestos packing and gaskets such as soot blowers, valves, and pumps.

Boiler workers would have to install, repair, and replace asbestos insulation on the inside and outside of boilers. This was an extremely dusty process. In addition, gaskets on boiler doors, windows, plate, and other connections would have to be changed on a regular basis. Packing in pumps and valves also had to be regularly replaced. This proce