Huntington Power Plant is an electrical energy producing station located in Huntington Canyon near the town of Huntington City, Utah. It is a coal-fired station capable of generating up to 895 megawatts of electricity. The facility is owned and operated by PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of MidAmerica Energy Holdings. Currently the power station burns about three million tons of sub-bituminous coal each year.
There are two generating units at the power station, the first commissioned in 1974 and a second added three years later. The facility draws its water supply from the nearby Huntington River. PacifiCorp developed and operates Electric Lake, a reservoir which periodically empties water into the river to provide sufficient cooling liquid for the plant and as a source of water for the steam boilers.
The coal itself is mined from the company-owned Deer Creek property and carried by a 2.5 mile conveyer system to the power station. The boiler units are as tall as a 15-story building and generate steam that is less than 2,400 pounds of pressure per square inch; the steam is transferred by pipes to the turbines that operate the electromagnetic generators. After the steam is released to the turbines it is sent to a condenser that uses cool water jackets to turn the vapor back into liquid, after which the water is returned to the boiler to begin the cycle once more.
Because of legislation enacted over the decades, the Huntington Power Plant has made a number of refinements to its operating procedures, including the addition of a full scrubber system that captures sulfur dioxide and prevents it from entering the atmosphere. In addition both generating units are equipped with cloth capture bags that collect residual particulates and prevent heavy metals from escaping with the flue gas.
Because it was initially constructed in the 1970s the Huntington Power Plant was like most others in that it probably utilized the material asbestos as a heat-resistant compound. This silicate mineral occurs naturally and has for over a century been used as a protector against excessive temperatures; asbestos wraps are used on steam pipes, in worker’s clothing and to insulate walls and ceilings that are near boilers or other areas where heat can damage the interior of buildings.
Huntington Power plant workers may have been exposed to asbestos fibers during normal operations because the fibers can become loosened over time and inhaled. Long-term exposure to asbestos, especially fibers that become stuck in the lungs and windpipe, is the cause of many serious illnesses including but not limited to asbestosis and mesothelioma. Symptoms of these diseases often do not show for years or even decades after exposure.