Asbestos Demolition Causes Scare in Australian Power Plant

In March of this year, it was determined that a power plant in Kwinana, Australia was “riddled with asbestos,” and that the entire facility was contaminated forcing more than one hundred workers to be sent home at risk for serious asbestos exposure. 

Employees of the Verve Energy Kwinana Power Plant were sent home while further tests were conducted around the entire facility after an alleged asbestos abatement project went wrong, causing massive amounts of airborne asbestos fibers to circulate.  More than a hundred workers are now concerned that they have breathed in fibers of the known carcinogen, and fear future developments of lung cancer, and even the rare cancer mesothelioma.

Asbestos is the name for a naturally occurring mineral which has fantastic heat and electric insulation properties, and which has been used for over a century in construction and equipment products around the world.  When asbestos becomes friable or brittle and starts to fall apart it can become airborne, and if the microscopic fibers are inhaled or ingested by humans the side effects can be extremely harmful, even fatal.  Asbestos related diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma can result from a person’s asbestos exposure.  Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart, and or abdomen, also mesothelioma is diagnosed in over 600 Australians every year.

The asbestos incident in question was the result of demolition done at the power plant, and once tests were conducted which claimed that “high levels” of asbestos particles were found in the air around the building, including restrooms; break rooms, and the cafeteria. Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary Steve McCartney immediately sent all employees home when tests had reported such high volumes in the plant.  At this time, the asbestos exposure sites within the power plant are being environmentally cleaned and monitored by the proper occupational safety officers. 

Australian politician Eric Ripper had this to say about the unfortunate events; “They have no idea as to the level of the exposure they may have endured and they are understandably fearful and very concerned about their health.”  Only time will tell if the over one hundred workers at the power plant will develop asbestos related diseases as a result of this incident.