Conesville Generating Station
Over half of the electricity in the United States is generated from coal, making the Conesville Generating Station in Ohio an important asset to this country. Much of America’s coal power comes from the state of Ohio. In fact, over 95 percent of Ohio’s electricity is generated from boilers that are coal fired like the Conesville Generating Station. Conesville sits near the Muskingum River and the Ohio Central Railroad, on what was formerly the Ohio and Erie Canal. The power plant is located inside the Muskingum Watershed that is part of the largest drainage system in Ohio. There are 16 reservoirs in the area.
The generating station at Conesville opened in 1973, burning bituminous coal. There were six units in all and four are currently operating. Two of the six were shut down because of the high cost to maintain them and another will be closed in the year 2012. There are 80 acres on the property on which the by-products of burning coal are stored and there is a landfill three miles from the Conesville facility.
Just like any plant of the same era that generates power, Conesville had to address issues that affected safety and the environment. For instance, plants like this were often insulated with asbestos in order to lower risk of fire. However, using asbestos puts employees at risk to exposure to toxins. There is also ash and coal waste stored in the landfills at this site. These landfills are lined only with semi-permeable clay. People living in the area are at greater risk for respiratory and cardiovascular cancers. The officials who run the Conesville facility are taking steps to decrease the health and environmental hazards associated with the plant.
Conesville is just one of a large number of facilities that probably used asbestos during the 20th century because of its fire resistant properties. However, the use of asbestos had ramifications that were not widely known at the time, though some employers were aware of them but chose not to inform their employees. Many workers at these sites have been stricken with or even died from serious diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma that are caused by exposure to asbestos. The risk is highest when the asbestos releases particles into the air. Once in the air they can be inhaled or otherwise ingested.
Those who worked with asbestos before the current laws regulating its use were provided little to no information about the safe handling of asbestos. These workers would often carry the deadly fibers home on their clothing, shoes, and hair, exposing their families to the dangers. Since mesothelioma symptoms can take decades to appear, anyone who worked at the Conesville Generating Station should be aware of their possible past exposure to asbestos.