Resources for Patients and their Families

Greene County Power Plant

The Greene County Power Plant is a fossil-fuel electrical generating facility located on the Black Warrior River near Demopolis. Owned an operated by Alabama Power, it was one of the state's first such plants. Currently, its 11 units have a total generation capacity of 1220 megawatts.

Fired by a combination of coal, oil and gas, Greene County Power Plant is one of the worst polluters in the state of Alabama, despite the fact that their emissions have declined over the past twenty years.

Asbestos Exposure

Because of its flame retardant characteristics and its usefulness as an electrical insulator, asbestos was used in virtually every industry – including the Gorgas facility. While the use of asbestos saved millions of dollars in property damage as well as spared thousands from the agony of burn injuries, for many it resulted in a range of respiratory illnesses ranging from calcification of lung tissue to full-blown malignancies.

The use of asbestos in building materials was gradually phased out in the 1980s. There are currently strict worker safety rules regarding asbestos; however, before 1980 workers were exposed to it in various rooms, corridors, among steam pipes and conduits and from the machinery itself. Employees also took asbestos into their homes in their clothing and hair, resulting in secondary exposure among family members. Those who have been exposed to asbestos should seek medical attention at any of the mesothelioma clinics in their area.

Asbestos diseases usually have a lengthy latency period; symptoms may not be apparent until decades after initial exposure. Therefore, former employees as well as their families may literally have ticking time bombs in their chests, and are advised to get frequent medical checkups if possible.

This location was one of numerous factories, mills, power plants and worksites that, throughout the first 70 years of the last century, used the mineral asbestos for its ability to resist fire. Although asbestos' strength as an insulator certainly protected people from injury and even death, the eventual consequences of using it were tragic, and numerous employees suffered serious illness because of contact with asbestos. The reason so many workers have fallen ill from illnesses such as asbestosis and lung cancer is that when humans inhale or ingest strands of asbestos, the mineral remains in internal organs; once there, the sharp, microscopic spikes damage cells. Also, mesothelioma, which is a fast-growing and mostly untreatable cancer affecting the lining surrounding the lungs, is associated with even low levels of inhalation of asbestos particles.

Because numerous studies have shown the link between being exposed to asbestos and conditions like pleural plaques, modern-day laborers are protected by state and federal guidelines that prescribe how asbestos is to be handled. Those who worked near asbestos before such laws were passed, however, usually spent their work days in spaces where asbestos fibers were prevalent, and they as a rule received little or no guidance about how to minimize risks when dealing with the mineral. Spouses were also exposed to asbestos when companies didn't provide showers, as workers took asbestos particles home on their skin or in their hair. Workers who have been negligently exposed should seek legal counsel from a mesothelioma lawyer.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses often take decades to develop, and the symptoms of these disorders are often difficult to distinguish from those of other conditions, so men and women who worked at these sites in the past, as well as their family members, should chat with their medical care providers about their history of asbestos contact.



SourceWatch. "Greene County Steam Plant." 2009.

Southern Company. "Plant Locations." 2009.

SourceWatch. "Southern Company." 2009.

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