Portland General Electric – Oregon Asbestos

Portland General Electric, also known as PGE, is a Fortune 500 company that provides power to about half of the residents of Oregon. PGE distributes electricity in parts of Clackamas, Marion, Multnomah, Yamhill, Polk, and Washington counties. Portland General Electric has been independent for most of its existence, but was owned by Enron for a short time from 1996 until the company’s bankruptcy in 2006.

The company’s history begins in 1888, when it was founded by Edward Eastham and Parker Morey. Portland General Electric is the name that has been used since 1948. The company was first called Willamette Falls Electric Company, with the name changing several times over the years. PGE began producing power with a hydroelectric generator. This generator was placed at Willamette Falls. They currently continue to produce electricity using water power, while also burning coal and natural gas.

Portland General Electric operates five thermal power plants and seven hydroelectric plants. One hydroelectric plant, Bull Run, was decommissioned in 2007. Port Westward High Efficiency Gas Power Plant is located close to the Beaver plant on the northern border of Oregon. It began operating for commercial purposes in 2007 and has since been awarded for innovation.

Most power plants built before the mid 1970s, including many of Portland General Electric’s, used asbestos for their insulation needs. Many power plants that contained large quantities of asbestos are still in operation today. Power plants run very hot and have a high risk of catching fire. Asbestos has the ability to resist heat and flames, so it was often used at these plants. It also greatly reduces sound and does not conduct electricity. Another reason that asbestos was used is because it is readily available and inexpensive.

Asbestos dust is very dangerous if inhaled or swallowed. Being in an asbestos-filled environment for an extended period of time can lead to serious disease and eventual death. Asbestos fibers sit in the tissue surrounding the lungs and other organs after they are inhaled or ingested. They irritate this tissue to the point that scarring builds up. This irritation can eventually lead to the development of cancers, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer, or respiratory difficulties like asbestosis, which is also potentially fatal.