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Callaway Nuclear Power Plant

The Callaway Nuclear Generating Station is near Fulton, Missouri. The state's only commercial nuclear unit, the facility first came online in 1984. The single General Electric reactor has a generative capacity of just under 1.2 gigawatts. Today, Callaway is owned and operated by the Ameren Corporation; this plant accounts for almost 20% of the power generated and sold by the company.

In 2008, Ameren applied for a permit from the for the construction of a second reactor, which would have increased the plant's capacity by approximately 1.6 gigawatts. These plans were canceled due to a state law which prohibits power companies from charging ratepayers for facilities that have yet to produce power.

Any sort of power generation facility built prior to the 1980s has had large amounts of asbestos insulation at some point in its history. This is because asbestos offers excellent resistance to heat and flame as well as electrical current. To be sure, asbestos-containing materials have saved thousands of lives while preventing massive property loss over the past century. Those who contracted asbestos diseases as a result have nonetheless suffered disproportionately.

Asbestos illness was demonstrated to be a serious hazard for power plant employees in a 2003 study by Puerto Rican researchers. The team examined chest x-rays from 1100 such workers and discovered indications of asbestos disease in over 130 of the images.

Before the 1980s, generators, boilers and turbine combustion engines as well as thermal control devices were regularly insulated with asbestos. Before this, knowledge of the health hazards of asbestos were kept from the general public by the corporate conspiracy of silence that was exposed during litigation in 1977. The evidence that came to light proved that the entire asbestos products industry had in fact engaged in a massive cover-up that went back to the 1930s.

EPA and OSHA regulations now protect workers and govern the general handling of asbestos. However, asbestos disease symptoms take decades to manifest; by then, it is usually too late.

However, new diagnostic methods have recently been developed, allowing pathologists to detect the signs of asbestos disease at their earliest stages. Although Callaway was constructed after 1980, former power plant employees should discuss asbestos exposure with their primary care doctors and receive regular checkups whenever possible.

This installation was one of numerous factories, mills, power plants and worksites that, in the first two-thirds of the 1900s, utilized the naturally occurring mineral known as asbestos because of its ability to insulate against fire. Although using asbestos was intended to protect human life, it unfortunately often had the opposite effect: exposure to asbestos while on the job has resulted in serious illness for thousands of laborers. The reason for this is that asbestos strands, if inhaled or ingested, embed themselves into internal organs and cause debilitating diseases such as pleural plaques and cancer of the lungs. The most serious of the asbestos-caused diseases is mesothelioma, which is a form of cancer that affects the lining of the abdominal cavity; it is very difficult to treat, and patients seldom live more than two years after being diagnosed. Still, mesothelioma chemotherapy treatments are available from doctors like Dr. David Sugarbaker of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA.

Because numerous studies have shown the relationship between inhaling asbestos and illnesses like mesothelioma, 21st-century workers are protected by government regulations that control how asbestos is used. People who labored around job sites constructed with asbestos before such rules were implemented, on the other hand, usually spent their days in spaces where asbestos was prevalent, and they as a rule received little or no guidance regarding how to work safely with the substance. Moreover, employees brought asbestos home on their work clothes when showers weren't offered at the workplace; the consequence of this was that the potentially deadly mineral also endangered wives and husbands of those who worked with asbestos.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses frequently take many years to develop, and symptoms are often mistaken for those of other conditions; therefore, men and women who worked at these sites at any time in their job history, as well as their partners and children, should speak with their medical care providers about their history of exposure to asbestos.

Sources

Sources

Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Terrifying True Story of How Asbestos is Killing America. New York: Touchstone, 2003.

Cabrera-Santiago, Manuel et al. "Prevalence of Asbestos-Related Disease Among Electrical Power Generation Workers in Puerto Rico." Presentation at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, 2007.

Energy Information Agency. “Callaway Nuclear Power Plant, Missouri.”
http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/at_a_glance/reactors/callaway.html

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