Asbestos and Lead Found in Old Power Plants?

March 30th, 2022 | in Asbestos
What Type of Hazmat Issues Are Found in Old Power Plants?

Power generation facilities can have a long list of hazardous materials inside, materials that would have to be addressed and remediated before any work could be done to renovate, make repairs or deconstruct.

The potential hazardous materials are the same ones that could be found in any old building built prior to 1990, and what you would find would depend largely on the age of the power plant.

In this blog article we will discuss which hazardous materials you might find in an old power plant that would need remediation. 


Asbestos, Lead, Mercury and PCB containing materials use in power plants and electric generating facilities was wide-spread during their construction years ago and unless a detailed destructive survey has been performed, it is difficult to know exactly where these hazardous materials are. Asbestos for example has been used in over 3,000 building products including asbestos cement roof and wall cladding, boilers, fire-spray insulation, heating pipes, tanks, vessels, brakes, electrical wiring, gaskets and more.

Removal of asbestos and lead coatings has to be completed by often cross-trained workers skilled in hazardous materials abatement who will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including HEPA respirators and hazmat suits. Worker access and egress is rigidly controlled and depending on the risk factor often requires multi-staged mobile decontamination units equipped with showers and HEPA-filtering machines.

Stringent worker and environmental protection are also required for abatement and decontamination of lead coatings, heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Lead-based paint and coatings were widely used.


Lead used to be in paint, primer paint on steel, various coatings and a host of other building materials like caulking, mortar, and flashing. 


Mercury was not just in batteries, but also in switches, thermometers, pumps, and HVAC systems, instrumentation, and pressure-vapor lighting.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) 

These chemicals were commonly used in transformers, caulkings, coatings, plastics, sealants, dyes, and light ballasts.

These chemicals, noted above, are just a few of the hazardous chemicals that you might find. A professional trained in hazardous materials abatement would know exactly where to look to determine what hazardous materials are on site, and how they need to be handled to do a building renovation or deconstruction. Determining the presence of hazardous materials is not a DIY job, in fact, it is regulated, and soon to be more so.

Asbestos and lead abatement has intensified significantly across all industries during the last few decades. Abatement and decontamination within the energy industry is just one of many sectors Enviro-Vac are experts at.


Enviro-Vac is one of the oldest privately owned environmental contractors in Canada offering a full suite of services in hazardous materials abatement, industrial vacuuming, abrasive blasting, decontamination and plant dust downs including shrink- wrap containments. They are available to work both small and large- scale projects across Canada. The head office is based in Surrey, BC.

 If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about hazardous materials abatement, decontamination or shrink-wrap solutions, please call us on our toll-free number, 1 (888) 296-2499.

Cynthia White is a BA in English from NYU, with extensive experience as a writer and blogger. She has worked as a submissions' editor for a literary magazine, and Editor-in-Chief of a large industry publication. She was chosen Quora's Top Writer of 2018, and got a Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) President's Award, in 2018.

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