Buck Steam Station

The Buck Steam Station is an electrical power plant constructed in 1926 that produces energy from coal and natural gas.  Located in Salisbury Township near Salisbury, North Carolina, the electrical power plant is a 369-MW plant owned and operated by Duke Energy. The plant has three natural gas-powered combustion turbines along with a primary coal-fired turbine. The gas-fueled turbines contribute an extra 93 MW to the plant’s output. Total CO2 emissions at the plant are 1,803,198 tons.

The plant was named after James Buchanan Duke, the co-founder of Duke Energy. The plant has filled several orders by the Pentagon and other similar agencies. Two additional combined cycle natural gas-fired units were added at the plant in 2007. One is located at Dan River Stream Station, the other at Buck Stream Station. The goal was to diversify the fuel sources for the company by expanding generating capacity. Another goal of the plant is to move away from coal, which tends to be less efficient and produce more pollutants. Eventually the four original coal units operating at the plant will go offline.

In 2010, a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force focused on fine particle pollution generated during production at Buck Steam Station in relation to death and disease among those who work at or live around the plant. Fine particle pollution includes a combination of heavy metals, soot, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. The most dangerous of these particles are those that are 2.5 microns in diameter or less. Particles of this size may get into lung tissue and in turn enter the blood stream and travel to the vital organs of the body. Nine deaths have been attributed to such particles at the Buck Steam Station plant. This includes 13 heart attacks, 140 asthma attacks, six instances of hospitalization, five cases of chronic bronchitis and eight asthma-related ER visits. The study found greater impact on those with existing respiratory issues.

However, these particles are not the only air pollutant affecting those who work or worked at Buck Steam Station.  Power plants constructed throughout the 20th century in the United States made heavy use of asbestos in construction and insulating materials.  As these materials break, wear, or age, they release tiny asbestos fibers into the air where they can easily be breathed in.  An accumulation of asbestos fibers in the lungs is known to cause pleural plaques, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.


Duke Energy – Buck Steam Station

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