A New Hampshire construction worker recently filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claiming he and other workers were exposed to asbestos and mercury at Eversource’s Schiller Station.
Deputy Regional Director of the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Public Affairs Joanna P. Hawkins confirmed OSHA received the complaint concerning the power plant station work.
The worker is employed by Manafort Brothers, Inc. where he said, “employees are not adequately protected while removing materials containing asbestos and mercury.” A letter from OSHA to Manafort Brothers stated they “received a notice of a safety and/or health hazard at your worksite at 400 Gosling Road, Portsmouth.”
The letter continues, “We have not determined whether the hazards, as alleged, exist at your workplace and we do not intend to conduct an inspection at this time. However, since allegation of violation and/or health hazards have been made, we request that you immediately investigate the alleged conditions and make any necessary corrections or modifications.”
Asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, a deadly cancer. The EPA notes, “In general, the greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects.”
According to Manager of Media Relations for Eversource Martin Murray, the company “engaged Manafort Brothers, Inc. to dismantle retired equipment that had been in place at Schiller Station.”
“This project is related to the process of selling its generating facilities, and has been approved and authorized by the N.H. Public Utilities Commission,” reads Murray’s statement.
The statement continues, “The work was taking place within a sealed, contained zone. Eversource was made aware by Manafort that OSHA received an anonymous complaint regarding the potential of mercury and asbestos exposure, and that one of Manafort’s employees had also voiced concerns.”
Immediately following the notification of the complaint, Manafort supposedly halted work and hired more health and safety experts and consultants to review working conditions and take action.
Work will not begin again at the station in Portsmouth “until all data is received and analyzed by the experts and any and all issues are fully addressed.”