The James A. FitzPatrick (JAF) Nuclear Power Plant is located on the southeast shore of Lake Ontario near Oswego, New York. Originally built by the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, it was later transferred to the New York Power Authority (NYPA). The facility is currently owned and operated by Entergy, Inc. There are a total of three reactors on the site.
Asbestos was first established as a health hazard in the late 1930s; however, this information did not become available to the general public until 1977, when in the course of asbestos litigation, discovery of papers in the corporate offices of asbestos-product manufacturer Raysbestos, Inc. revealed a four-decade conspiracy in the asbestos industry to suppress information about the health hazards of asbestos.
All power plants built prior to the 1980s, whether fired by fossil fuels, nuclear power or hydro were constructed using extensive amounts of asbestos insulation. Asbestos is resistant to heat and flame as well as electrical current. Industrial health and safety experts have long known of the hazards of asbestos; this was confirmed by a Puerto Rican study in 2003, which revealed 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 because of their remarkably resistance to electrical current as well as their flame-retardant properties.
Since 1977, EPA and OSHA have issued strict regulations governing worker safety and other asbestos issues. Asbestos diseases such as mesothelioma have very long latency periods; symptoms often are not apparent until such diseases have reached advanced stages.
However, new diagnostic methods have been developed and approved by the FDA, which enable 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.
During much of the last century, it was commonplace for many industrial facilities to be constructed with the mineral asbestos because it excelled at blocking fire. Although using asbestos was usually intended to protect human life, it sadly all too often had the opposite effect: asbestos exposure at the workplace has resulted in illness and death for thousands of laborers. The reason so many employees have fallen ill from diseases such as asbestosis and cancer of the lungs is that when humans inhale particles of asbestos, the mineral remains in the lungs; once there, the sharp, microscopic spikes damage tissues. In addition, workplace asbestos exposure can cause the almost always fatal form of cancer known as pleural mesothelioma, which develops as a tumor of the mesothelium, the tissue that lines the pleural cavity (pleural mesothelioma) or the abdominal cavity (pericardial mesothelioma).
Because numerous studies have demonstrated the link between being exposed to asbestos and illnesses such as pleural plaques, 21st-century workers are protected by state and federal guidelines that prescribe how asbestos is used. In the past, however, laborers without proper safety gear all too often toiled in places where asbestos dust filled the air. Family members were also exposed to asbestos if workplaces failed to offer workplace-only uniforms, because employees carried asbestos particles to their homes on their skin or in their hair.
Diseases such as mesothelioma frequently take many years to appear, and the signs of these illnesses are often mistaken for those of less serious conditions; therefore, people who were employed at such plants at any time in the past, as well as their partners and children, should speak with their doctors about their history of asbestos contact. In addition, those who have been negligently exposed should seek counsel with a mesothelioma attorney.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.
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant - License Renewal Application.”