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Nuclear plant cleanup workers file asbestos lawsuit

Six men who worked to clean up a nuclear plant site in 2000 and 2001 have reportedly filed a personal injury lawsuit against the government contractors that ran the cleanup operation. In the suit, the plaintiffs claim that the contractors purposely and negligently placed them at risk of asbestos exposure during the cleanup operation while denying any knowledge of those risks.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs were exposed to asbestos when they cut up equipment with chop saws, creating "thick clouds of fine dust and debris, which completely coated Plaintiffs' bodies and clothing every day, and which they breathed continuously," the suit states.

In addition, when the plaintiffs asked to be provided with protective equipment and respirators to mitigate the potential harm caused by the asbestos exposure, the contractors refused to comply with their request.

The lawsuit also states that the plaintiffs were exposed to asbestos and other toxic materials when the contractors burned insulating materials in open fires, causing "huge plumes of smoke" to be released into the air. Those materials were known to contain "significant quantities" of asbestos-containing material.

When the plaintiffs attempted to raise their concerns about the probable asbestos exposure, the contractors denied any knowledge that the equipment contained asbestos. However, the lawsuit states, the contractors had access to Department of Energy materials which confirmed that asbestos fibers were present in the equipment.

In the lawsuit, the six plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for their increased risk of mesothelioma, cancer and other diseases, as well as to compensate for their pain and suffering.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, "Oak Ridge cleanup workers file asbestos lawsuit," Frank Munger, May 14, 2012

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