Resources for Patients and their Families

West Phoenix Power Plant

The West Phoenix Power Plant is a gas-fired facility with two combustion turbine units and an additional combined-cycle unit with a 1 gigawatt generative capacity. The facility is owned and operated by Arizona Public Service, a subsidiary of the Pinnacle West Capital Corporation. The plant is located near 43rd Avenue and Buckeye Road in the southwest area of Phoenix.

The newest units were added as part of a major expansion of the facility in 2000 and 2001 in response to the exponential growth in demand resulting from population increases in the Phoenix metro area over the past two decades.

Power generation plant workers are at high risk from asbestos exposure and are substantially more likely to contract disease such as mesothelioma. In 2003, Puerto Rican researchers analyzed the chest x-rays of 1,100 workers who had worked at least fifteen years in such a facility. 13% of the images showed signs of possible mesothelioma disease.

Asbestos is more than a flame retardant; the “blue” and “brown” varieties most likely to cause asbestos cancers such as mesothelioma are also excellent electrical insulators. Asbestos-containing materials were used extensively throughout the construction of power plants prior to 1980. Some of the areas in which asbestos-containing materials were found include:

  • fire doors
  • electrical cloth
  • pipe fittings and conduits
  • insulation
  • gasket materials
  • turbines and other machinery

Those who were employed at a power generation plant prior to 1980 should get regular checkups if possible and discuss the asbestos exposure and mesothelioma prognosis

with their primary care physician. When diagnosed and treated early, asbestos cancer patients can survive for many years.

This site was one of numerous factories, mills, power plants and worksites that, during most of the last century, used asbestos because of its ability to insulate against flame. Although using asbestos was generally considered a way to save lives, it sadly all too often had the opposite effect. Exposure to asbestos at the workplace has resulted in illness and death for untold numbers laborers. The reason is that strands of asbestos, if inhaled, can infiltrate internal organs and cause life-threatening diseases including asbestosis and cancer. The most deadly of the asbestos-linked disorders is mesothelioma, which is a cancer that involves the mesothelium, the tissue that lines the pleural cavity; it is almost always a death sentence for those who contract it.

Today, regulators understand the dangers associated with asbestos exposure, and health and safety statutes protect employees whose jobs put them in contact with this dangerous substance. Even up to the last part of the 20th century, though, workers all too often were expected to toil in spaces in which airborne asbestos was unfiltered; in many cases, the dangers posed by asbestos inhalation were unknown. In addition, workers brought asbestos particles home on their clothes or in their hair when showers weren't offered at the company; as a result, this carcinogen also endangered anyone living with those who worked around asbestos.

People who were employed here at any time in their job history, as well as their family members, should learn more about these health conditions and tell their healthcare professionals about their history of exposure to asbestos, because the signs of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses are often difficult to distinguish from those of other conditions.



APS Website.

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.

N/A. “Pinnacle West and Calpine Announce Partnership for Power Expansion at West Phoenix Plant.” Business Wire, 23 April 1999.

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