We Energies is an energy corporation that includes Wisconsin Electric Power Company, Wisconsin Gas LLC and an assortment of other small electric, coal-fired, gas, wind, hydroelectric, nuclear, bio-mass and steam plants that collectively power over 2 million homes and businesses. The corporation employs over 4,500 Wisconsin-area residents.
Despite its many innovative techniques, such as wind turbines and a bio-mass plant that converts organic matter into energy, this company likely put many former employees at risk for contracting asbestos-related illnesses. Asbestos was commonly used in power-generating plants prior to the hazardous material being banned by the United States.
Asbestos has been linked to a rare lung cancer as well as mesothelioma and asbestosis. These conditions are caused by tiny asbestos fibers, which embed in the lungs. Worker contact with asbestos fibers has costs thousands of lives by causing the development of conditions fatal diseases. It takes years for many of these illnesses to appear, generally manifesting when it is too late for treatment.
Workers at We Energies plants were not the only ones affected by asbestos-related diseases. Their families also risked coming into contact with these dangerous asbestos fibers. Because workers did not know the material was hazardous, they frequently came home with particles on their clothes and skin. These particles and fibers were then inhaled by family members.
We Energies no longer allows employee asbestos exposure at their power plants. After the federal ban, most power plants removed the material, which was used to insulate pipes and other electrical equipment. Other companies encased the asbestos in resin so the fibers could not escape into the air. Despite the removal and encasing of asbestos at power plants, thousands are filing lawsuits against plants nationwide after discovering they’ve been affected by the company’s negligence.