Hudson Generating Station

The Hudson Generating Station is located on 250 acres of land in Jersey City, New Jersey. It has a capacity for over a thousand megawatts and runs on two generating units. The plant owner and operator is PSEG. the first generating unit runs on natural gas and the second, with a capacity for 660 megawatts, uses coal to produce power, though it is natural gas capable. To reduce the emission of particulate matter and other sulfur dioxide pollution, the second generating unit of the plant uses an electrostatic precipitator. It was built in 1961 and became operational in 1964.

In 2006, PSEG was fined $6 million for failing to install pollution controls before the previously agreed-upon deadline at their Mercer and Hudson plants.  Though PSEG has since installed them and increased the staff at both plants in order to maintain the emissions control equipment, a 2010 study by the NAACP still put the Hudson Generating Station as its second-worst toxic coal-fired plant in a primarily minority and low-income community.

Air pollution released by coal-powered plants is certainly harmful. However, many workers did not realize that their risk for cancer may have been increased because of the material used in the plants. In some mills, shipyards, and power plants, a material called asbestos was used. Asbestos is easy to handle, cheap to produce and to purchase, and was fire and heat retardant. It was used as insulation and in protective gear.

Though asbestos is harmless when it is not disturbed, if it is cut , sanded, or otherwise handled or damaged, invisible,  fibers can break free. These fibers filled the air of many boiler rooms and worker inhaled or swallowed them without their knowledge. Once in the body, the fibers traveled either to the lungs, the heart, or the stomach. Because of the peculiar shape of asbestos fibers, they cannot easily pass through the lining of these organs. Over time, the fibers can build up and cause damage to tissue cells.

If these cells become cancerous as a result of asbestos fiber build up, the victim may develop mesothelioma.  Those who are indeed diagnosed with the cancer often find that the illness has progressed to final stages. Treatment is difficult and it is common for mesothelioma patients to have a life expectancy of just a few months to a year.