R. Gallagher Generating Station

The R. Gallagher Generating Station is a major power plant in Southern Indiana. The plant has four coal-fired generators and is on the northern bank of the Ohio River near New Albany, Indiana. The average total output of the plant is 560 megawatts. At one time, the R. Gallagher Station was considered the dirtiest power plant in the United States.

The Gallagher Station began commercial operation in 1958 with a single generating unit with a capacity of 150 megawatts. The second unit went into operation the following year in 1959. Units 3 and 4 became operational in 1960 and 1961, respectively. The power station is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Duke Energy, PSI Energy. Duke Energy is a large energy company located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company’s holdings are diversified, but most are in the energy production industry. The total electricity production of the company is 36,000 megawatts. This electricity is distributed to over 4 million customers in an area 47,000 square miles in size.

The R. Gallagher Generating Station has a poor track record for environmentalism and emissions. In 2006, the plant released more sulfur dioxide into the air than any other power plant in the United States. That year, the sulfur dioxide emissions were measured to be released at a rate of 40.38 pounds per megawatt-hour of electricity produced. In 2008, baghouses were installed at the Gallagher Station in an effort to reduce emissions. Baghouses are giant devices that suck in emissions from the plant and filter out the solid particulate before it is released into the air. However, the plant remains a major source of pollution even with the use of the baghouses.

Recent measurements from 2006 at the Gallagher Station show that the plant produces the following pollution in a single year: 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide; 4,239 tons of nitrogen oxide; 188 pounds of mercury; and 260,183 pounds of surface coal combustion waste.  Although the coal combustion waste is impounded into collection facilities, the carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide are released into the atmosphere. The mercury scatters and settles back onto the surface in the surrounding area. Most of the surrounding area consists of a wildlife preserve.

Unfortunately, these are not the only toxic substances at the Gallagher plant.  Many power plants built in the mid-20th century contained asbestos, a fibrous mineral that has been shown to cause cancers such as mesothelioma.  Since symptoms can take between 20 and 50 years to manifest, it is only now that many power plant workers are suffering the consequences of exposure to this toxic substance.  Sadly, many employers knew the risks but neither informed nor protected their employees.