Asbestos Interrupts Installation of Pollution Controls

A child of deregulation, the Atlanta-based Mirant corporation, which has taken over formerly publicly-owed power generation facilities in California as well as several Eastern states, has in seven short years become the 63rd worst corporate polluter in the nation. This information is from a report by the Political Economy Research Institute, first released in 2006. According to the report, this company is responsible for the release of nearly 10,000 tons of toxic waste into the atmosphere every year. It should thus come as no surprise that asbestos is among those toxic chemicals–particularly since power generation plants are among those facilities at which asbestos is a hazard. The management of Mirant is well aware of the corporation’s reputation as a major polluter. The recent attempt to install pollution reduction equipment at the Morgantown Generating Plant near Washington, D.C., was one such attempt to change this perception. This installation has now been put on hold because of an asbestos hazard.

The asbestos that has caused the problem had been used to insulate the industrial fan equipment that blows emissions out of the stacks. This insulation was damaged when one of the installation workers broke through a wall and disturbed the material. Since then, Mirant has done the right thing in hiring an outside asbestos-removal contractor for the abatement project. Misty Allen, a representative of Mirant, said that management is reviewing the incident in order to insure that all proper procedures have been followed. The 200 workers who are employed by the contractors hired to install the plant’s new catalytic pollution-control system are still concerned, however. Two days elapsed between the discovery of the asbestos hazard and the air testing that confirmed the presence of fibers in the air. One of the workers, who continues to draw pay while the hazard is addressed, expressed his own misgivings. ” Asbestos ain’t nothing to play with,” he told a Washington Post reporter. Another worker was quoted saying: ” I don’t think it was a big contamination, but it could be…[but] somebody needs to complain because people go home to their families after they work.”