Mystic Station Power Plant
The Mystic Station Power Plant is situated near Boston, Massachusetts, in the town of Everett. Now owned by Exelon, it is a 2,600-megawatt facility comprised of three 400-megawatt oil-fueled units, two 1,600-megawatt natural gas units, and one 600-megawatt oil-fueled unit. Everett is a town that is regarded as part of the greater Boston area, as it is a mere 4 miles away from the city limits of Boston. The city’s population is approximately 38,000.
Mystic Station received 6,000 violations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) between June of 1998 and March of 2003. Most of the citations related to the plant’s failure to adhere to the Clean Air Act’s standards. Pollution emitted from the facility was denser than the CAA’s regulations allow, and these included soot, which reportedly had an adverse affect on the breathing of those who lived in the area at that time. Numerous complaints cited further complications like asthma and other respiratory illnesses. A settlement of $6 million was reached between the EPA and the Mystic Station Power Plant, of which over $5 million was used to fund numerous environmental projects.
The order signed by the Mystic station forced the company to install new ignition switches on three of the facility’s older generators. Furthermore, those generators switched to a fuel oil with a lower sulfur content that burns cleaner to reduce soot emissions. In addition, Sithe Mystic, the company that owns the Mystic facility, was forced to undertake regular testing of the facilities to ensure they remain in compliance.
However, emissions were not the only toxins to come out of plants like Mystic Station. Due to its electricity and heat resistant properties, asbestos was frequently used in the majority of the nation’s work sites, mills, factories and power plants. Asbestos may have been the “magic mineral” when it came to insulation, however numerous individuals developed tragic diseases which were a direct result of the asbestos. Once inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers remain in the body for years, subsequently damaging the surrounding tissues. The deadliest of all asbestos-related illnesses is mesothelioma, a rare and hard to treat cancer that affects the mesothelium, which is the lining of tissues in the abdominal and pleural cavities.
State and Federal guidelines ensure the protection of 21st century workers from inhaling the fibers, as the dangers of doing so are now well understood. However, as recently as the 1970s, many individuals worked in areas filled with thick asbestos dust with little or no personal protective gear. In addition, if no on-site showers were provided by employers, workers carried the fibers home on their clothing and hair, thereby placing their families at risk of exposure. Those who were exposed to asbestos before the dangers of this activity became known may wish to consult a family doctor to discuss their history of exposure and the subsequent health risks it may cause.
Merchant, Mark. (March 6, 2002) “EPA Orders Air Quality Improvements at Mystic Station Power Plant in Everett.” Retrieved March 23, 2011 from the EPA.