McClellan Generating Station

John L. McClellan Generating Station is a fuel oil powered plant built in 1971 at Camden, Arkansas. The power plant’s operating unit has the capacity to generate 134 megawatts of power and also uses fuel oil as a backup for its operations. Owned and operated by the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, the John L. McClellan Generating Station was named for Arkansas born John L. McClellan, a politician and senator from the year 1943 to 1977. The John L. McClellan Generating Station was the third functioning power plant station constructed by the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation and was preceded by the Thomas B. Fitzburgh Station in Ozark and the Carl E. Bailey Generating Station in Augusta.

Many power plants built in the 1970s contained at least one carcinogen. Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral found in ore deposits. Once it is mined, the product is used to make insulation material and protective clothing and gear for many workers, including power plant employees. Asbestos was inexpensive and both fire and heat resistant, making it suitable for use in many power plants across the United States.

However, when asbestos is sanded, cut, broken, or dented, it can crumble slightly, producing tiny, long fibers. These fibers pollute the air, causing power plant workers to inhale or ingest them unwittingly. As the fibers accumulate in the lining of the lungs, hearts, and stomachs of employees, they cause scarring of the bodily tissues. Over time, this scarring makes the cells of these organs become cancerous.  As the cancerous cells spread, a condition known as mesothelioma arises. Mesothelioma is considered rare, but it is almost always deadly. Those who develop mesothelioma are generally unaware of their condition for several years, often for up to 50 years after their exposure to asbestos.

Though many contemporary plants have discontinued the use of asbestos, some that were built before asbestos regulation was passed, like the John L. McClellan Generating Station, may have used or handled the cancerous material without informing employees, resulting in disastrous health issues and possibly the deadly mesothelioma.