Asbestos in Power Plants
Electric power production began in the 1800s. Since then, workers constructed hundreds of electric power plants across the nation. Many of these power plants contained asbestos.
Three primary energy sources are used to produce electric power. One is hydro-electric that relies on rushing water to turn generator turbines. The second is steam-powered generation.
Most steam power plants burn fossil fuels like oil and coal to create heat that turns steam generators. A third energy source is nuclear fuel that requires atomic reactions to make electricity. Before the mid-1980s, all three power plant types installed asbestos-containing materials or ACMs.
The health risks from human asbestos exposure first surfaced in the 1930s. That was ten years after ACMs became popular in American power plants.
Many asbestos manufacturers and suppliers of products used in power plant construction were aware their materials posed long-term health dangers to power plant workers.
Many plant executives also knew that asbestos exposure in their facilities was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode as a lethal lung disease called mesothelioma.
Asbestos exposure caused mesothelioma. There’s no other contributor to this nasty form of cancer. Tragically, the vast majority of power plant workers had no suspicion that their workspace was so threatening.
It wasn’t until the 1970s when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blew the whistle on asbestos exposure. They identified ACMs as serious health hazards in power plants as well as all other work environments containing asbestos.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also made asbestos abatement a priority. By the mid-80s, authorities banned asbestos products and their installation in American power plants ceased.