Martin Drake Power Plant

The Martin Drake Power Plant of Colorado Springs, Colorado, operates three boilers in its coal powered electrical production facility. This facility can produce up to 257 megawatts of electrical power for Colorado.  Martin Drake uses coal found in the Foidel Creek area in Colorado, as well as coal from Wyoming at the Powder River Basin. The power plant operates a precise, yet flexible, automated system that creates a custom blend of coal for each boiler. This custom blend allows maximum production for each of the three boilers. Though the plant has been in operation since the early 1960s, it has been updated to keep emissions as low as possible while producing electricity at a reasonable cost.

The Martin Drake Power Plant is found at the foot of Pike’s Peak in the Rocky Mountains. This locations means the plant is subject to strict environmental protocols. There have been many changes to the plant over the years, as they modified their systems to comply with environmental regulations. Extraordinary attention has been given to particle emissions, as law requires. Over the years, the power plant, originally built as a seven unit facility, has been reduced to the three unit system it is today.

The original plant was outfitted with electrostatic precipitators (“wet” system) to deal with the particulate emissions of dust and ash. However, in response to new standards for the environment, in 1978 the plant put in place a new “dry” emissions system. This system uses a vacuum to collect and separate dust from fly ash, a coal byproduct which can be sold and used by concrete companies.

Like so many factories and other worksites, the Martin Drake plant likely used asbestos as an insulator to protect machinery. As is now known, while asbestos may have protected the workers from heat and fire injuries, it ironically exposed them to cancer and lung diseases. To date, thousands have discovered that their exposure to asbestos caused asbestosis or lung cancer, in particular the untreatable mesothelioma variety. The workers at power plants such as the Martin Drake unit were exposed daily to asbestos dust. To the extent they carried such dust home on their clothes, they also exposed their families to high levels of asbestos.