Workers at a Missouri power plant were tasked with secretly disposing of materials containing asbestos so that company personnel assigned to oversee such health hazards would be none the wiser, a Joplin-based newspaper reports.
Employees at Empire District Electric Company’s Riverton plant were exposed to asbestos insulation around pipes, ducts and wires that was peeling and flaking, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month on behalf of employee Les Rider and “all others similarly situated” at the facility. The lawsuit seeks class-action status but has not yet been granted that status by the courts.
Rider and other workers were asked to dispose of various scrap materials during the plant’s conversion from coal to gas power by a plant manager who let it be known that the hazardous waste must be made to “disappear” so that plant oversight staff would have “plausible deniability” if the materials were found. The suit also alleges that workers were ordered to handle and test polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, as well as work with coal ash, without the necessary protective gear or safety equipment.
The lawsuit does not specify any injuries or illnesses suffered by Rider or other employees but claims negligence on the part of the company and seeks compensatory damages that the suit says will be sued to establish a “medical monitoring program for class members”.
A spokeswoman for the Empire said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
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