Resources for Patients and their Families

Paradise Power Plant

The Paradise Power Plant is a coal-fired electrical generating station in western Kentucky along the Green River near the new town of Paradise. The plant is currently operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The original town of this name was razed in 1967 to make room for the plant.

Paradise first came online in 1970. Today, three units have a total generative capacity of over 2.2 megawatts, providing electrical power to about 930,000 residential and small business customers.

Coal-fired plants are notorious for their toxic emissions, particularly CO2 and sulfuric oxides. In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was the named defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity on behalf of local residents who have suffered elevated levels of respiratory diseases and other health disorders. According to the lawsuit, the EPA failed to address these issues when it renewed the TVA's license application for the operation of the Paradise facility.

The TVA currently has plans in the works to address these problems at Paradise with the addition of wet limestone scrubbers, selective catalytic reduction systems and other new technology that should reduce emissions by approximately 85%. TVA plans to have all these upgrades in place at their oil and coal-fired facilities by 2010; estimated cost is around $6 billion.

Paradise is only one of many industries that prior to the 1980s utilized asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in order to insulate machinery and structures. In power plants, much of the ACM was likely to be in the form of crocidolite, a bluish-colored type of asbestos that is particularly deadly and strongly implicated in the development of mesothelioma.

This particular form of cancer is aggressive, deadly and particularly difficult to diagnose. Not only does it have a long latency period, its early symptoms are similar to those of many other respiratory illnesses as well. It is not known if radiation exposure can exacerbate the effects of asbestos or not, but anyone who has him/herself been employed at SONGS or family members of an employee are advised to discuss this with a primary care physician and be checked whenever possible. New diagnostic tools now enable pathologists to detect the markers of such cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable with mesothelioma chemotherapy. Such treatments can be administered by doctors such as Dr. David Sugarbaker of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA.

Through the 1970s, it was typical for plants, mills, and factories to utilize asbestos because of its resistance to heat, flame and electrical current. While the use of asbestos was generally considered a way to save lives, it unfortunately ended up with the opposite effect: asbestos exposure at jobsites has resulted in serious illness for untold numbers employees. The health conditions linked to exposure to asbestos include pleural plaques and cancer; the largest chance of developing these conditions happens when materials containing asbestos become fragile, releasing strands into the environment where they are available to inhale or ingest. Also, a history of asbestos exposure can lead to the almost always fatal form of cancer called mesothelioma, which develops as a tumor of the mesothelium, the tissue that lines the chest cavity (pleural mesothelioma) or the abdominal cavity (pericardial mesothelioma).

Employees who work with asbestos today are generally protected from contact because of the extensive body of rules regulating its utilization, presence at job sites and demolition. People who labored around job sites containing asbestos before such rules were implemented, however, often spent their work days in sites where asbestos microfibers were prevalent, and they as a rule were provided with little or no information about safe ways to handle the substance. In addition, employees brought dust containing asbestos home in their clothes and hair when decontamination procedures weren't offered at the workplace; the consequence of this was that this potentially deadly mineral also put at risk offspring of those who worked around asbestos.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses often take many years to develop, and their symptoms are often difficult to distinguish from those of other conditions; therefore, men and women who were employed at these installations at any time in their job history, as well as those who lived with them, should chat with their physicians about their history of exposure to asbestos.



"Paradise Fossil Plant." 2009. TVA. 6 May 2009,

"Suit Filed Over Paradise Coal-fired Plant in Kentucky." 2006. E-Wire. 6 May 2009,

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