While this blog often covers the residential side of asbestos inspections and exposure, it’s important to remember the industrial uses (at an industrial scale) of asbestos in the commercial industry. Besides the factories that produced or handled asbestos-containing materials (ACM), few buildings saw as much asbestos use as power plants in the US. This article is designed to provide an overview for those concerned about the presences of asbestos in these types of facilities.
Common Asbestos Materials in Power Generation
Asbestos, deemed a “miracle mineral” in its heyday, was often used for its heat resistance, insulative qualities, and as an inexpensive filler agent. In power general, it could often be found in both protecting the equipment as well as in the overall building. These materials are common in older power plants.
- Fire Resistant Materials: Due to the nature with much of power generation (both from heat and power voltage), facilities were often proofed against fire with ACMs.
- Pipe Lagging: For steam generation, water and steam pipes were often insulated in pipe lagging on industrial scales from their residential counterparts. Pipes can also be made out of Transite.
- Electrical Insulation: To avoid discharges and keep staff safe, generators and wiring are often insulated, which could have used asbestos electrical insulation.
- Heat Insulation: Much like with asbestos pipe lagging, high heat generators and processes (such as with coal-fired plants) could also have been insulated in asbestos materials.
- Protective Gear: Older protective gear worn by power plant workers could contain asbestos textile fabrics, from everyday wear to firefighting gear.
Types of Power Plants at Risk for Asbestos
There are two major factors that determine the risk of a power plant containing asbestos: the age of the plant and the power generation process. Buildings built before the 1990s are most at risk to contain asbestos, while power generation methods that employ steam turbines are more likely to contain asbestos pipe lagging and insulation in their design. This puts power fossil fuel power stations like coal-fired plants or nuclear plants more at risk. In many older plants, asbestos has been found. Asbestos.com has a list of over 20 plants hit by asbestos lawsuits in the last decades.
If you’re concerned your power plant may have asbestos-containing materials, it’s time to get it inspected. Fiber Control, Inc. are asbestos abatement contractors who provide the best diagnostic, remediation, and removal services for asbestos, mold, and lead paint in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Contact us today to take a look at your business.