Gerald Gentleman Station

Gerald Gentleman Station was built in Nebraska near the Sutherland Reservoir as a coal fired generating station. The plant boasts two generating units, the first with the capacity to generate 665,000 kilowatts, and the second able to generate 700,000 kilowatts. Gerald Gentleman Station runs on low sulfur coal transported from Wyoming and decreases the emission of sulfur dioxide gas. At full capacity, the plant burns upwards of 840 tons of coal per hour.  Newly installed technology allows Gerald Gentleman Station to reduce 99.8 percent of particulate matter emissions. The power plant has also installed a waste water evaporation pond and a sewage treatment plant.

Though Gerald Gentleman Station has renovated its boiler and cooling facilities, many power plants used asbestos materials in boiler room equipment in the past. One form of particle pollution came from the use of asbestos in power plants. Used in manufacturing, in boiler rooms, and as insulation and protective gear, asbestos was used in Navy vessels, for commercial construction, and in many power plants. Manufacturers and power plants used asbestos because it was not costly, held up well against corrosion, and provided heat resistance. Though used to protect machinery from heat and other dangers, asbestos is now know as one of the most potent carcinogens.

When asbestos is disturbed or damaged for manufacturing or any other purposes, or if it is heated or handled, long, fine, nearly invisible fibrous material escapes into the air. Because many power plant workers were subject to poor ventilation conditions, these fibers clung to their hair and to their clothes and boots. The workers carried the fibers home in this manner, and workers and family members alike inhaled and swallowed asbestos fibers without realizing it. Over an extended period of time, this can lead to a rare cancer called mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma symptoms resemble those of many other more common diseases, like the flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia. In addition, the symptoms of the cancer are often latent for a number of years, generally 20 to 50 years. Many mesothelioma victims are misdiagnosed because of the commonality of the symptoms. Those who are diagnosed accurately generally have very low life expectancy and only live for about a year to a few months. Many power plants, including Gerald Gentleman Station, likely exposed workers and employees to asbestos without their knowledge and the workers who did know that they were handling asbestos often did not realize the carcinogenic properties that the material possessed until it was too late.


Nebraska Public Power District