A lawsuit filed in September alleges that the Empire District Electric Co. of Joplin, Missouri, put its workers at risk by leaving sources of asbestos exposed in its Riverton plant.
According to a report in the Joplin Globe, Empire employee Les Rider claims in the suit that asbestos insulation in the plant showed signs of deterioration, and exposed workers to “dangerous concentrations of asbestos fibers.”
Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that was commonly used in a variety of products including building materials, packaging, and some paints and coatings. It was valued for its strength and fireproofing characteristics as well as for its ability to deaden sound. In power plants, asbestos insulation was often used in order to protect against fire hazards
If asbestos is allowed to deteriorate, its microscopic fibers may be released into the air. If inhaled, the fibers can stick to mucus linings in the nose and throat before dislodging and eventually penetrating into the walls of the chest and lungs. Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing serious lung diseases including mesothelioma, an aggressive and incurable cancer.
In the suit, Rider alleges that he was expected to remove asbestos-insulated wire from its spools so that it could be thrown away, and that he and other employees were not trained in proper disposal of asbestos-contaminated waste. The work was part of an effort to convert the plant from coal to natural gas.
Adequate safety equipment was also not provided, the suit claims.
The lawsuit requests class-action status. Rider seeks compensatory damages “in the form of the costs associated with establishing a medical monitoring program for class members.” Asbestos is known to cause mesothelioma, but symptoms can take decades to appear.
An Empire spokesperson declined to comment on the suit, according to the Joplin Globe.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Sokolove Law today to learn more about your legal options, which may include an asbestos lawsuit.