H. B. Robinson Station

Located near Hartsville, South Carolina, is the H. B. Robinson Nuclear Generating Station. The plant is powered by pressurized water reactor technology (also known as PWR). Serving the South Carolina area, the plan contains one single nuclear reactor that produces 714 MW as well as a smaller, coal-based generator that generates an additional 174 MW.

Owned by Progress Energy Incorporated, the plant was named after H. Burton Robinson, a former executive for the Carolina Power and Light Company. Also sharing the same namesake is the adjacent Lake Robinson. The first commercial use nuclear power plant in the southeastern United States, Robinson Nuclear Generating Station was the largest of its kind in the world upon its commission on March 7, 1971.

A pressurized water reactor works using two water sources. The first water source is a self-contained loop. In this loop, highly pressurized water is pushed through a long series of pipe. On one end of the loop, the water is heated by a nuclear reactor. This causes the water to become incredibly hot, but due to the pressure, the superheated water remains in liquid form. On the other end of the loop, the heat in the water is used to heat a second water source, generating a giant amount of highly pressurized steam. This steam is used to rotate the turbines that actually generate electricity.

Like many power plants built up to the 1970s, H. B. Robinson Nuclear Generating Station was probably built using asbestos insulation. When inhaled over time, these asbestos fibers are a carcinogen causing various types of lung cancer as well as mesothelioma. Unfortunately, because symptoms take so long to develop, many former power plant employees are still dealing with the ill effects of encountering asbestos in the course of their jobs.

Since the publicizing of the harmful effects of asbestos, the material has been removed from the vast majority of facilities it has been used in by specialized teams sporting proper safety equipment and apparel for this purpose. However, such equipment was not made available by employers for many years, potentially exposing workers to dangerous airborne asbestos fibers.