Beesley’s Point Station
The Beesley’s Point (B.L. England) Generating Station is located near the Great Egg Harbor River in Cape May County, New Jersey. The plant has three generating units, all of which contribute to the plant’s production of 450 megawatts. Two of the three operating units use coal, and the third uses oil. The B.L. England Generating Station uses scrubber technology to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. In 2006, the owner of the plant, Pepco Holdings, decided to sell the plant to RC Cape May Holdings, LLC for over $12 million.
Unfortunately, many power plants were known for endangering both the environment and employees because of the methods, equipment, and material used for generating electricity. According to Scorecard, a pollution information site, Beesley’s Point [L312] ranks among the worst U.S. power plants in terms of total environmental releases. Scorecard explains that this number comes from the Toxic Release Inventory, which is a database established under the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Despite this disconcerting statistic, one material stands out in power plants for posing a continued threat to current and retired employees.
Asbestos is a mineral that has been used in construction, power, and other industries for centuries. Asbestos is inexpensive and is resistant to intense heat, making it useful in power plant boiler rooms and as a protective material for employees. However, when asbestos is handled, it can release its fine fibers into the air. These fibers are difficult to detect with the naked eye, and many workers were unaware of their existence. Many workers, especially those stationed in rooms with poor ventilation, breathed in these fibers, which could then become trapped in the lining surrounding organs, generally affecting the lungs, heart, or stomach.
Once these fibers are lodged, they harm the healthy cells of this tissue layer, called the mesothelium, causing the cells to mutate and become malignant. These cancerous cells begin to multiply and spread, resulting in a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma. Unfortunately, mesothelioma symptoms are hard to distinguish from those of other illnesses, and many doctors misdiagnose victims. Also, the symptoms lie dormant for several decades, often up to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Because of this latency, many former employees of these unhealthy work environments feel and look well until the cancer metastasizes. However, this[L313] contributes to the cancer’s late-stage diagnosis and the patient’s subsequent short life expectancy.