Paradise Fossil Plant
The Paradise Power Plant is located near the village of Paradise, in western Kentucky. The plant’s construction was completed in 1970. Paradise is a coal-fired electrical plant operated by the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority). As with all coal-burning plants, Paradise heats water in a boiler to make steam. The steam is pressurized and fed into a turbine, which produces electric power. Annually, the Paradise Power Plant can produce 14 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to power about 930,000 homes. The Paradise plant burns 20,000 tons of coal daily, and it has three natural cooling towers and three units that generate more than 2,200 megawatts daily.
The TVA plans to spend around $6 billion for emissions controls and upgrades to meet environmental standards. At Paradise, new scrubbers will remove about 80% of the sulfur dioxide from emissions, while the installation of catalytic reduction systems on generators will help to reduce nitrogen oxide.
In 2006, Kentucky residents and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the EPA for failure to address deficiencies in the TVA’s operating permit for coal plants. In the suit, the claimants declared that the Paradise plant emits thousands of pollutants into the air and that it is the largest air polluter in the U.S.
It is widely known that coal combustion byproducts cause dangerous health effects, such as asthma, bronchitis, birth defects, heart attacks, a risk of decreased intelligence, and a possible increase in the risk of cancer in the community. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit also claimed that the EPA failed to comply with the Clean Air Act because of their issuance of an operating permit to Paradise. The lawsuit was an attempt to make the EPA revoke the permit. The case is currently pending in court.
Paradise Power Plant, among thousands of other similar facilities, may have used asbestos materials in its construction. Although it is well-known in the public today that inhaling asbestos fibers can result in the development of mesothelioma cancer, and asbestosis, much of the 20th century saw the unregulated usage of this material. Mesothelioma and other similar conditions may take 20 to 50 years to develop after asbestos exposure.
Today people who work with asbestos take precautions as mandated by federal law. However, people who previously worked with the material were not as cautious, partially because they were not aware of the risks of asbestos exposure. As a result, numerous former employees and their families, through second-hand contact, were exposed to the material.