LyondellBasell Edison Plant

The Edison Plant owned and operated by LyondellBasell is located in Edison, NJ and occupies 100 acres of land along the Raritan River. Originally created in 1929 the facility has always been a manufacturing plant but the products and owners alike have changed over the decades. The parent company LyondellBassel is headquartered in the Netherlands and is one of the largest oil refinery firms in the world, as well as a developer and manufacturer of specialty chemical products.

At this particular facility, workers manufacture the Avant ZN catalyst, a major component in the processing of polypropylene. Sometimes abbreviated as PP, polypropylene is a plastic that can be in either thick or thin forms, and is used to create solid plastic structures such as those found on the interior of cars and appliances, or as a film that can be woven to produce strong tear-resistant wrap for lumber and other heavy items.

Petroleum-based products are created in a factory type environment that involves automated machinery, reactor containers, heating elements, production lines and a certain amount of high voltage. It is therefore critical that this type of manufacturing process is performed under the strictest of safety guidelines. It is also common for a large amount of waste material to be produced in a plastics manufacturing environment.

Asbestos may have been used extensively at this facility in earlier years. Until the 1980s it was not known how exposure to asbestos could lead to a number of degenerative health conditions. The tiny fibers that make up asbestos often break loose and become airborne; when the material is used as an insulating compound in factories and chemical plants workers can sometimes inhale these particulates, which become embedded in the lungs.

Mesothelioma and other complications are caused by long-term exposure to asbestos fibers. Quite rarely do these symptoms become evident until 20 to 50 years after exposure. Asbestos was used to line walls, boiler coverings, hot steam pipes and as a coating for wires; its low cost to mine and process made it the ideal choice as an insulating material. Former employees at the Edison plant may have been exposed to asbestos long before its dangers were completely understood.