Improper Asbestos Removal Reported at Westinghouse
Westinghouse Electric Company, later renamed Westinghouse Electric Corporation was founded in 1886 by George Westinghouse. It soon became one of the largest and most successful electric companies in the United States, rivaling Thomas Edison’s electric company (later known as General Electric). Two of the largest factories under the Westinghouse name were in East Pittsburgh and Lester, PA, where they made turbines, light bulbs, welding rods, generators, and motors; all for the transmission for use of electricity.
Asbestos in Westinghouse
Asbestos was a popular building material and used extensively throughout most of the 20th century. Dubbed the “miracle mineral,” asbestos is heat resistant, resistant to chemical degradation, can be woven into fabric, and possess a high tensile strength. At Westinghouse, asbestos was used in many ways including: light bulb manufacturing, power plant construction, wiring, turbine insulation, motor insulation, and control panels. Products manufactured by Westinghouse exposed workers who were in other industries.
Asbestos fibers, which are nearly invisible, sharp, and easily inhaled, become embedded in soft tissue in the lungs and surrounding organs. The body is unable to break down or expel the fibers, resulting in damage and scarring. Many of the positions within the factory allowed for extreme levels of asbestos exposure among the workers, which can cause many illnesses and cancer including mesothelioma, lung cancer, colon and colo-rectal cancers, laryngeal cancer, and asbestosis.
Asbestos still remains at Westinghouse plants today and a recent report from KDKA reported the shut-down of a developmental project due to improper asbestos removal. According to the report, the former the 160-acre Westinghouse site located in Churchill contains massive amounts of asbestos that were not only not disposed of properly, but workers removing the asbestos were untrained and unprotected. Photographs showed a pick-up truck containing garbage bags allegedly containing the carcinogen. The Allegheny County Health department suspects that safety procedures were not followed, allowing exposure and possible air contamination.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires specific steps to be taken if asbestos is suspected in a building, or if the structure was built before 1978. Environmental reports must be provided that identifies any asbestos in the structure surveyed by a qualified asbestos inspector. Asbestos removal has to be done in accordance with EPA and OSHA regulations.
If you are suffering from an asbestos-related illness and are unsure if you have ever been exposed, contact the attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C. Learn more about our law firm’s asbestos experience, our mesothelioma attorneys, or our Ask an Asbestos Attorney for answers to common questions. Feel free to contact us directly for more information.
Andy Sheehan, “KDKA Investigates: County Shuts Down Development Project Over Improper Asbestos Removal,” CBS Pittsburgh (May 2, 2017). [Link]