McGuire Nuclear Power Plant

The McGuire Nuclear Power Plant is located in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and is a generating station that uses nuclear power. In 1981, this plant began operations and is owned by the Duke Power Company. The plant is located 17 miles northwest of Charlotte on the banks of Lake Norman. At a size of 32,500 acres, Lake Norman is North Carolina’s largest artificial lake. It was first created by Duke Power to be used for the Cowens Ford Hydroelectric Station. Water from the lake is used to cool down the McGuire Nuclear Plant and the Marshall Steam Station that is located close by.

The McGuire Station makes use of two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors. The McGuire plant can generate up to 2,200 megawatts. This is approximately 44 percent of all the available nuclear power in North Carolina. Construction began on the first unit in 1971, which began operating ten years later. Soon after, Unit 2 was built and began operating in 1984. In 2003, Duke Energy applied for renewals on both of its reactors. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved and gave Duke Energy the go-ahead to operate for an additional 20 years.

To prevent damage to buildings and equipment, the McGuire Nuclear Power Plant is likely one of many plants to contain the natural fiber known as asbestos due to its resistance to electrical currents. Nuclear operations generate extremely high temperatures, and machinery and the surrounding environment needed to be insulated from the heat. However the long-term effects of asbestos exposure, though kept hidden by some employers, were not publically known and there was no acknowledged concern about the health risks of working around the naturally occurring fibers.

Many health conditions have been linked to asbestos exposure, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. The risk of developing an asbestos-related disease is increased if work conditions revolve around handling asbestos that is fragile or damaged. Asbestos is by far the largest cause of cancer of the lining of the chest and abdominal cavity, a disease called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers become lodged in the body, but may not cause noticeable symptoms for 20 to 50 years after exposure.