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Childs-Irving Power Plant

The Childs-Irving Power Plant is a hydroelectric facility serving communities in Arizona's Yavapai County communities, located on the Verde River near Fossil Creek.

History

The power plant is one of Arizona's oldest such facilities; funding for the project was made possible through the sale of bonds. Construction by the workers of the Arizona Power Company began in 1908, four years prior to Arizona's statehood. Most of the workers were local Apache and Mojave Indians who were paid $2 a day. The nearest railhead was in the town of Mayer, forty miles away; supplies had to be shipped over mountainous country to the work site using mule-drawn wagons.

Once completed, the Childs-Irving Plant had a capacity of 2.8 megawatts.

Asbestos

All power plants, whether fired by fossil fuels, nuclear power or and hydro (such as the Childs-Irving facility) contained large amounts of asbestos insulation. Asbestos is resistant to heat and flame as well as electrical current. Arguably, asbestos-containing materials have saved lives and prevented billions of dollars in property loss over the decades. However, those who contracted asbestos diseases have paid dearly.

Asbestos illness was established as a work-related hazard for power plant workers in 2003, when Puerto Rican medical researchers found that 130 out of 1100 chest x-rays from such workers showed indications of asbestos disease.

Generators, boilers and turbine combustion engines as well as thermal control devices have all been insulated with asbestos-containing materials when the health hazards of asbestos were not generally known to the public at large. Those facts finally came to light in the late 1970s, when during asbestos litigation, papers were discovered in the corporate office of Raysbestos, Inc. proving the existence of a cover-up going back four decades.

Since then, the EPA and OSHA have issued strict regulations governing worker safety and other asbestos issues. Mesothelioma disease nonetheless have very long latency periods; symptoms often are not apparent until such diseases have reached advanced stages.

Fortunately, new diagnostic methods have been developed, allowing pathologists to detect early signs of asbestos disease. Former power plant workers should discuss asbestos exposure with their primary care physicians and receive regular checkups if possible. Mesothelioma prognosis can be encouraging when the disease is in its early stages but invariably fatal in their latter ones.

Given its insulating properties, the naturally occurring fibrous mineral known as asbestos was often utilized within many factories, mills, power plants and worksites across the country. While using asbestos was generally considered a way to reduce the risk of injury, it unfortunately ended up with the opposite effect: asbestos exposure while on the job has resulted in illness and death for untold numbers people. The reason so many workers have died from diseases including "miner's lung" and lung cancer is that when humans inhale or ingest particles of asbestos, the mineral embeds itself into the lungs; once there, the tiny, jagged bits of asbestos damage organs. Furthermore, a history of asbestos exposure is the primary cause of the deadly cancer called mesothelioma, which develops as a tumor of the cells that line the chest cavity (pleural mesothelioma) or the stomach peritoneal mesothelioma.

Because numerous studies have demonstrated the link between being exposed to asbestos and conditions such as lung cancer, 21st-century laborers are protected by government regulations that control how asbestos is handled. People who labored near job sites constructed with asbestos prior to the implementation of such laws, on the other hand, usually spent their days in sites where asbestos microfibers were prevalent, and they as a rule received very little guidance about safe ways to handle the substance. Moreover, employees took asbestos strands to their homes on their work clothes when decontamination procedures weren't provided at the company; the consequence of this was that this potentially deadly mineral also put at risk anyone who shared a house with those who worked around asbestos.

Diseases such as mesothelioma frequently take a very long time to develop, and the symptoms of these disorders are often difficult to distinguish from those of other conditions, so people who worked at these sites during their careers, as well as those who lived with them, are advised to talk with their medical care providers about their history of asbestos contact.

Sources

Sources

Bowker, Michael. Deadly Deception (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.

APS. “Childs-Irving Hydroelectric Project.”
http://www.aps.com/images/CI/Childs_Irving_HAER_Narrative_rev1.pdf

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